Music News

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Blur, one of the greatest rock bands of the 1990s, will release an album in 2015. It's called The Magic Whip, and it's due out April 28 in the U.S.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Deacon John does it all. The veteran New Orleans bandleader plays weddings, birthdays, proms, debutante parties. He holds his own at Jazz Fest and at carnival balls. He'll play 1950s R&B, rock, jazz, gospel, soul and disco — whatever the people want to hear. But when it's up to him, he chooses the blues.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A moment now to remember a soprano whose voice was heard by millions of people who never who she was.

(SOUNDBITE OF UNIDENTIFIED SONG)

ANITA DARIAN: (Singing) How I wish we weren't...

Today we're thrilled to announce that the winner of the Tiny Desk Concert Contest is Fantastic Negrito.

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

We were all here before. Rising up out of the subway onto 125th Street, it strikes me that I should come uptown to Harlem more often. The Popeye's on 125th and St. Nicholas Avenue is still there, offering the same crispy bird parts and sodium-heavy buttermilk biscuits; it's still the same bustling, up-til-3-a.m. refuge it always was. Vendors still hawk street literature, pamphlets and incense sticks on fold-up tables that line the sidewalks. It could just as easily be 1995. That's when I was restless and unsettled.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Sam Smith won four Grammy Awards last night. And that was good news for Tom Petty. Petty and another songwriter will get royalties from Smith's hit "Stay With Me" because it sounds a lot like one of their songs. NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports.

On Sunday night, the big Grammy Award winners included Beck and Sam Smith, both of whom put out records that moved pretty slowly. As Stephen Thompson and I note in our wrap-up of the night, the ceremony was a little heavy also, despite some strong performances and a helpful infusion of social commentary.

The Rise And Fall Of Marion 'Suge' Knight

Feb 9, 2015
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

I'm David Greene, and I want to remind you what commercial rap music sounded like in 1991.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOOD VIBRATIONS")

MARKY MARK: (Singing) Yo, it's about that time to bring forth the rhythm and the rhyme.

Sam Smith, the British singer whose debut album, In the Lonely Hour, was one of only two albums released in 2014 to go platinum, won four Grammys, including Record and Song of the Year, as well as Best New Artist.

Music critics these days love to argue about "rockism," the unexamined prejudices we bring to our musical judgements, and "poptimism," an effort to celebrate commercial stuff that some think goes way too far. My book, Top 40 Democracy: The Rival Mainstreams of American Music, aims to get us out of that endless back and forth by focusing on the key place songs become pop: radio, which, beginning on AM with Top 40 in the 1950s and then moving to FM in the 1970s, gave music its deepest connection to Americans. Radio made new tunes and styles familiar, perennial, memories.

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The Cold Wrath Of Nature, Given Operatic Voice

Feb 7, 2015

The Grammy Awards, that moment when the music industry turns its collective eyes toward a single stage and pats itself on the back, will be presented on Sunday night. Musicians up for Album of the Year include Beck, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Pharrell Williams and Beyoncé.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This is "I Think It's Gonna Work Out Fine," performed by Ike and Tina Turner in 1961.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I THINK IT'S GONNA WORK OUT FINE")

TINA TURNER: (Singing) Darling.

IKE TURNER: Yes, Tina.

Unfinished Business

Feb 3, 2015

One thing you can say for the improbable return of Olympia punk deities Sleater-Kinney: By the standards of a Greatest Indie Rock Band of Their Generation, it's off to a rousing start. Not just with critics and fans, but possibly also with people who've never bought a Sleater-Kinney album before.

It turns out Bob Dylan is big Frank Sinatra fan. You just probably won't hear it from him. To promote Shadows In The Night, an album of songs Sinatra made famous, Dylan gave just one print interview — to the AARP.

Sunday night, in the middle of Katy Perry's flashy Super Bowl Halftime Show featuring dancing beach balls and sharks, rapper Missy Elliott and her dancers dropped in.

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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DANCE TO THE MUSIC")

SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE: (Singing) Dance to the music. Dance to the music. Dance to the music. All we need...

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The story of Paramount Records is a story of contradictions. It was a record label founded by a furniture company, a commercial enterprise that became arguably the most comprehensive chronicler of African American music in the early 20th century. And yet, for Paramount's executives, music was an afterthought.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Songwriter, Poet Rod McKuen Dies At 81

Jan 30, 2015

The obituary in The Los Angeles Times describes Rod McKuen as "prolific" and that may well be an understatement considering the many compositions he churned out.

McKuen is credited with more than 200 albums and more than 30 collections of poetry.

Pop's New Old Sound: Retro Without Rules

Jan 29, 2015

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