Music News

All Songs Considered
9:19 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Hear The First New D'Angelo Album In 15 Years

D'Angelo has just released his first album in 15 years, Black Messiah.
Vallery Jean FilmMagic

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 9:47 am

We woke up to a world with a new D'Angelo album, his first in almost 15 years. For lovers of R&B and soul — hell, for lovers of music that transcends — this is unreal.

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Music News
3:18 pm
Sat December 13, 2014

'Voices Within The Music': A Brief History Of Guitar Effects

"I started thinking about effects pedals as being like a palette with different colors," Wilco guitarist Nels Cline says.
Diverse Images/UIG Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 5:24 pm

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Music News
6:12 am
Sat December 13, 2014

Malawi Mouse Boys: Hunting Mice And Singing In Harmony

The Malawi Mouse Boys.
Marilena Deli

Originally published on Sat December 13, 2014 12:21 pm

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Deceptive Cadence
3:17 am
Sat December 13, 2014

A Bicentennial For Boston's Handel And Haydn Society

Harry Christophers leads the Handel and Haydn Society, now celebrating its bicentennial.
James Doyle Handel and Haydn Society

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 1:14 pm

Boston's Handel and Haydn Society is one of the oldest continuously running performing arts organizations in the country. To celebrate its bicentennial this season, the group made a new recording of a holiday perennial, Handel's Messiah, which also happens to be one of the first works it staged nearly 200 years ago. Still, the Handel and Haydn Society is very different from what it was when it started.

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The Record
8:46 am
Fri December 12, 2014

In 2014, Pop Followed Beyonce's Lead

Beyonce's performance during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards in August included clips of a speech about feminism by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Kevin Winter/MTV1415 Getty Images for MTV

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 5:28 pm

2014 was a divisive time in popular music, with no single album or song seeming to capture the year's mood and no trend pointing clearly toward the future. But most music lovers could agree on one thing: Beyoncé was flawless. The 33-year-old powerhouse set every standard by which pop music and celebrity are judged.

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The Record
12:19 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

The Political Folk Song Of The Year

Alynda Lee Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff.
Joshua Shoemaker Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 8:52 am

When Alynda Lee Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff wrote the song "The Body Electric," she knew it would make its way into the world, and hoped its effects would be palpable. Horrified by the rapes that have made tragic news from India to America's college campuses, the singer-songwriter noticed that her own people — music makers and music lovers — would regularly sing along with choruses about killing women, comfortably accepting gender-based violence as part of the ballad tradition.

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The Record
2:23 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Cornell To Digitize A Rich Hip-Hop Archive

Bill Adler (center) with LL Cool J (left) and Fab 5 Freddy at LL's mother's house in 1988.
Daniel Root Courtesy of Bill Adler

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 5:21 pm

Aaliyah, Ace Hood, the Afros, Ali D, Arrested Development: In Bill Adler's extensive collection of hip-hop history, some of the genre's biggest names are arranged next to lesser mainstream artists.

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Parallels
1:43 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Russian Pop Stars Pay A Price For Speaking Out On Ukraine

The Russian pop group Televizor has criticized Russia's involvement in Ukraine. Here, frontman Mikhail Borzykin performs at a 2011 show in St. Petersburg. At some concerts he sings, "Putin is a fascist," a reference to the Russian president, shown on the screen behind him.
Svetlana Bobrova Courtesy of Televizor

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 6:44 am

The conflict over Russia's role in Ukraine is spilling over into many aspects of Russian life, including its music scene. Some of the country's most popular musicians have taken stands against the annexation of Crimea and Russia's support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

And those who oppose Russian involvement have been facing a backlash from the authorities.

The veteran band Televizor is a case in point.

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The Two-Way
3:17 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Bob Dylan, In New Album, Will Cover Frank Sinatra

Bob Dylan performs onstage during the 17th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at The Hollywood Palladium on Jan. 12, 2012, in Los Angeles. In his next album, Dylan will "uncover" Frank Sinatra.
Christopher Polk Polk/Getty Images for VH1

He's doing it his way – even though "My Way" won't be on Bob Dylan's new album of Frank Sinatra covers.

Dylan's new album, Shadows in the Night, is being released in February. It's his 36th studio album, and will come three years after Tempest.

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Music News
8:28 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Just Who Is That 'Mean Old Daddy'?

Joni Mitchell, pictured here in 1970, wrote the song "Carey" while living in Matala, Crete.
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 8:49 am

This song may take you back a ways — say, about 43 years.

That's Joni Mitchell, back when her voice was high and light. It's "a helium voice," as she describes it in an interview with NPR's Morning Edition.

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The Record
7:42 am
Sat December 6, 2014

WKRP In Perpetuity

The cast of WKRP in Cincinnati, recently reissued on DVD by Shout! Factory, which collected licenses to include most of the original music broadcast on the show.
Courtesy Sony Pictures Television

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 9:06 pm

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The Record
2:43 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

A Supposedly Irie Thing I'll Most Certainly Do Again

Jr. Gong, Stephen Marley, Cham, Sean Paul — the list goes on. A massive jam session ensues and nearly everyone leaps onstage to spit some lyrics. To call this reggae history is no hyperbole.
Empress K For NPR

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 2:21 pm

DAY ONE

How much Bob Marley paraphernalia can you cram on a single boat?

That's no riddle. I'm sincerely pondering this as I stand in line at the Port of Miami, about to board the Norwegian Pearl. I am going on a cruise.

I am going on a cruise.

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The Two-Way
3:19 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Keyboardist Ian McLagan Dies At 69

Ian McLagan performs at Grimey's Americanarama in Nashville, Tenn., on Sept. 20. The keyboardist for the Faces and Small Faces, who was also a sideman for the Rolling Stones, died Wednesday. He was 69.
Erika Goldring Getty Images for Americana Music

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 4:05 pm

Ian McLagan, who played keyboard for the English rock bands Small Faces and Faces and was a sideman for the Rolling Stones, died Wednesday in Austin, Texas. He was 69.

His official website listed the cause as "complications from a stroke suffered the previous day."

"I am completely devastated by this shocking news, said Kenny Jones, McLagan's bandmate in Small Faces and Faces.

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Goats and Soda
3:08 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

A Tale Of Dueling Ebola Songs: One From Britain, One From Africa

TK
Courtesy of Jean-Christophe Nougaret/MSF

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 1:14 pm

In separate recording studios and separate songs, two groups of international stars have harnessed the power of their voices to help raise awareness of Ebola.

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Music News
3:07 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Anatomy Of A Hit: Kelly Clarkson's 'Since U Been Gone'

Kelly Clarkson performs during an American Idol broadcast in 2002.
Kevin Winter Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 5:23 pm

What makes one song sound like another? Sometimes it's coincidence; sometimes it's plagiarism. And sometimes, it's the byproduct of deliberate craftsmanship: building a song piece by piece from distinct styles of music. All of that can make it hard to give a tune a genre.

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Remembrances
3:07 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Rolling Stones Saxophonist Bobby Keys Dies

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 4:24 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Saxophonist Bobby Keys was still a teenager when he started playing with his fellow Texan Buddy Holly and pop star Bobby Vee. Later, he joined up with the Rolling Stones. And for more than 40 years, Bobby Keys' powerful sax was a key part of their sound.

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The Two-Way
1:09 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Bobby Keys, Who Played Saxophone For The Rolling Stones, Dies At 70

Saxophonist Bobby Keys of The Rolling Stones performs at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, N.Y., on Sept. 7, 2012.
Taylor Hill FilmMagic/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 1:44 pm

Updated at 3:44 p.m.

Bobby Keys, the legendary saxophonist most associated with The Rolling Stones, has died. He was 70 years old.

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All Songs Considered
8:30 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Introducing Our Tiny Desk Concert Contest

Introducing our Tiny Desk Concert Contest.
NPR

Want to play a Tiny Desk Concert? Now's your chance: NPR Music and Lagunitas are holding a contest, and the winner gets to perform at my desk here at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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Deceptive Cadence
9:03 am
Mon December 1, 2014

What's Your Top 100 Of The Last 100 Years?

Composer Steve Reich, whose Music for 18 Musicians pulled out ahead of Gershwin, Shostakovich, Bartok, Ives, Berg and all others in last year's Q2 poll.
Wonge Bergmann Courtesy of the artist

For the past few years, member station Q2 in New York City has been enlisting listeners in a thought-provoking year-end poll. Forget the best music of the last year — what are the very best compositions of the last century?

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Music News
3:08 pm
Sun November 30, 2014

Billboard Music Chart Marks First Major Change In 20 Years

Originally published on Sun November 30, 2014 4:43 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

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Business
3:49 pm
Sat November 29, 2014

Vinyl, Once Thought Dead, Makes A Comeback In The Digital Age

An employee demonstrates how a mother is checked for sound quality before it is duplicated during production at the Rainbo Records factory in Canoga Park, Calif. The vinyl record industry has seen an uptick in sales in recent years, keeping manufacturers like Rainbo busy.
Patrick T. Fallon Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Sun November 30, 2014 12:27 am

In the '90s, Rainbo Records owner Steve Sheldon wanted to keep his vinyl presses going.

Everyone thought he was crazy; they told him it was a dead format. But Sheldon was adamant.

"I actually said, many times, 'I think it will be around longer than CDs,' " Sheldon says.

Today, his Canoga Park, Calif., operation is massive. There are sound testing rooms, large printers for making labels and rows of workers stuffing sleeves. And then there are the actual presses themselves — 14 of them — giving off smoke and smelling of burnt rubber.

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Remembrances
3:53 am
Fri November 28, 2014

Iconic Lebanese Singer Sabah Dies At 87

Originally published on Fri November 28, 2014 5:16 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Music News
3:04 am
Thu November 27, 2014

Mendelssohn And Other Classic Composers Offer Musical Thanks

Originally published on Thu November 27, 2014 1:50 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

There are lots of ways to say thank you today that don't include turkey or cranberry sauce. For example, there is music.

(SOUNDBITE OF FELIX MENDELSSOHN ORATORIO, "ELIJAH")

CHORUS: (Singing in German).

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Music News
1:02 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

Remembering Sabah, An Iconic And Thoroughly Unconventional Arab Star

Lebanese singer Sabah in a 2008 photo from Lebanon.
Anwar Amro AFP/Getty Images

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Music News
3:13 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Pandora's New Deal: Different Pay, Different Play

David Lowery, of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, says he's wary of the way Pandora pays for music.
Cooper Neill Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 10:18 am

The Internet radio service Pandora made its name by creating personalized stations using tools such as "like" and "dislike" buttons for listeners. But a deal between Pandora and a group of record labels has raised concerns that the company is favoring certain songs over others because it's paying the musicians behind those songs a smaller royalty.

When Pandora emerged a decade ago, its big selling point over traditional radio was that it created a station just for you, as the company's Eric Bieschke told NPR last year.

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The Record
9:50 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Commerce Vs. Consumption: A Revolutionary Rethink Of Billboard's Album Chart

Taylor Swift, whose 1989 is currently the No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 and whose song "Blank Space" is at the top of the Hot 100, even though her music is not available on Spotify.
YouTube

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 4:32 pm

Imagine you're in a Tower Records in the late '90s. You head for the cash register with a credit card and two compact discs in your hand. Let's say one CD is by OutKast, the other by Smash Mouth (remember, it's the late '90s). The following week on the Billboard 200, America's premier album chart, both of the CDs you bought have been tallied.

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The Record
1:28 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Paramore Feat. Joy Williams, 'Hate To See Your Heart Break'

Hayley Williams (left) of Paramore and Joy Williams, formerly of The Civil Wars, perform together on a version of the song "Hate To See Your Heart Break" from the deluxe version of Paramore's self-titled album.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on

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Music News
10:03 am
Sat November 22, 2014

In Bowling Alleys And In Rock Clubs, The Dude Abides

Jeff Bridges and his band The Abiders perform in concert at the Paramount in Huntington, N.Y.
Debby Wong Corbis

Originally published on Sun November 30, 2014 3:41 pm

Actor Jeff Bridges may have revealed his musical talent in a movie — as Bad Blake, the fading country singer in Crazy Heart — but music is more than just a side gig for him.

Bridges says he's always strumming his guitar, even when he's on a movie set.

"Whenever I'm working, I'll have my guitar with me," he says. "And if there's a nice tree to sit by, or a little creek or something, I'll go out there. Anywhere is a good place to play music."

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Music News
3:54 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

'Only The Truth' Gets At Reality Through Legend

Gabriela Ortiz is the composer of Unicamente la verdad.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 5:22 pm

Gilberto Reyes is a musician who grew up to Mexican parents in Southern Texas. He says as a kid he was not afraid of El Cucuy, or the boogeyman. He was more concerned about Camelia La Tejana, or Camelia of Texas.

"I remember when I was a kid listening to the songs, thinking, 'Wow. Una bandida,' " Reyes says. "This incredible woman with power to make men do whatever she wants at her will, you know."

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The Record
11:20 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Nora Jane Struthers, 'The Same Road'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed April 8, 2015 1:56 pm

Nora Jane Struthers is guided by fire. Coming up within the tradition-minded bluegrass world, she spent her youth in a family band with her father, a good daughter learning tradition. But since she's been leading her own band, the Party Line, Struthers has poured more and more emotion into her songwriting, coming up with some of the most quietly powerful narratives within the new wave of Americana artists.

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