Music News

I'm not sure there's ever been a record release as confounding as the one for Kanye West's The Life Of Pablo. He's changed its title and track listing several times in as many weeks, and even up until the very moment I'm writing this, it's not 100 percent certain what will be on that final album, whenever and wherever it comes out.

Author Jesmyn Ward won a National Book Award for Salvage the Bones, her gritty and lyrical novel of Hurricane Katrina-era Mississippi. In this essay, as in all of her work, she doesn't mince words.

When the video dropped on Saturday, we galvanized. Cleared our schedules, watched on repeat till our eyes turned red. Got into screaming matches with loved ones about what kind of hot sauce belongs in a #swagbag. Even made preemptive Valentine's Day reservations at Red Lobster, because you never know.

Here's what we know: Coldplay and Beyoncé will perform at Sunday's Super Bowl halftime. The duo just released a song called "Hymn for the Weekend."

All that is solid melts in the presence of funk. Maurice White — the prolific songwriter, singer, producer, arranger, bandleader, organizer and conceptualist at the helm of multi-platinum act Earth, Wind & Fire who transitioned on Thursday at 74 after a 25-year struggle with Parkinson's Disease — gifted us with years of optimistic, exuberant music that could instantly evaporate your frown into thin air.

Tonight, Showtime presents a new documentary on the late pop star Michael Jackson, called Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall. Director Spike Lee explores his journey from child prodigy to recording his best-selling 1979 album. It's the second in what Lee hopes will be a trilogy of films dedicated to Jackson's musical legacy.

Off the Wall was Michael Jackson's first solo album as an adult.

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Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Once upon a time, an artist actually had to sell albums to earn gold or platinum awards from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). But today, the RIAA announced that they're catching up with how fans actually listen to music: On-demand streaming, either on video or audio platforms, counts toward that status.

When some Western musicians picture life in India, they seem to think you can't turn a corner without someone blasting you in the face with brightly colored powder.

Paul Kantner, who co-founded the psychedelic-rock group Jefferson Airplane and helped define the San Francisco sound in the 1960s with songs such as "Somebody to Love," has died. He was 74.

The guitarist and singer died Thursday following a heart attack earlier in the week, NPR's Tom Cole reports.

So. Macklemore. I suppose we have to talk about Macklemore.

Tickets to the most popular concerts and other live events are often hard to find because of abusive practices by vendors who illegally use computer programs called bots to grab them up, according to a report released by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

In some cases, tickets to live events sell out within minutes, only to appear right away at enormous markups on sites such as StubHub, according to the report, which calls for major reform to the ticketing process.

Once in a blue moon*, the film industry makes a decision that leaves us speechless.

What is the role of a white person in the struggle of black people fighting injustice? That's the question posed by Ben Haggerty, better known as Macklemore, as he puzzles out his own role as a white artist in love with hip-hop on a new song called "White Privilege II." Macklemore & Ryan Lewis released the song as a free download overnight via a website that also offers links to "supporting black led organizations," and already, conversation and controversy have begun.

Like any music, jazz has its revolutions; its sudden incidents in infrastructure; its disruptive presences of unprecedented sound. Mostly it's slower than that, though, with years and generations of accretions before it seems to call for new vocabulary. That's one way to look at Winter Jazzfest, whose latest incarnation occupied a dozen or so venues in downtown New York City last weekend. In a decade and a half of steady growth, a one-night showcase oriented toward industry insiders has become nearly a weeklong landmark of the city's cultural calendar.

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Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And now let's take a moment to remember Glenn Frey, who has died at the age of 67. His music as part of the Eagles has been part of the national soundtrack, if you will, for decades. Here's NPR's Ted Robbins.

(SOUNDBITE OF EAGLES SONG, "TAKE IT EASY")

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Glenn Frey, 67, a founding member and guitarist of The Eagles, died on Monday in New York City of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia, according to a statement on the band's official website:

"The Frey family would like to thank everyone who joined Glenn to fight this fight and hoped and prayed for his recovery. Words can neither describe our sorrow, nor our love and respect for all that he has given to us, his family, the music community & millions of fans worldwide."

It might seem unusual that a 16-year-old Taiwanese pop starlet could motivate legions of youth to troop to the polls and vote for the island's opposition party candidate. But she apparently did, and thereby helped Democratic Progressive Party leader Tsai Ing-wen become Taiwan's democratically first elected female leader.

Shawn Amos had a Los Angeles childhood that was equal parts grit and glamor. He went to private schools and lived in a nice house, but it wasn't exactly in Mr. Rogers' neighborhood.

Tennessee Ernie Ford was fed up with the trappings of fame and the demands of the music business. It was 1955 and his label, Capitol Records, had threatened to sue him if he didn't make another record. He decided to fulfill his contract and leave. The song he ended up recording became a No. 1 hit, topping Billboard magazine's pop and country charts.

Our fondness for a song is often connected to a string of memories — when a lyric or a melody made the world feel larger, more full of possibility for a moment. When the artists who made the music are no longer with us, it can feel like a piece of that moment is lost, too.

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