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Music News

David Bowie, Rock's Shape Shifter, Returns

Mar 1, 2013

Hear Ann Powers talk about David Bowie's career, and his new album, with Morning Edition's Renee Montagne by clicking the audio link above.

Richard Street, for nearly three decades a member of The Temptations, has died. He is the second former member of the fabled Motown group to pass away in two weeks; last week former Tempations tenor Damon Harris died. Both singers can be heard on the 1972 hit "Papa Was A Rolling Stone."

How A Studio Changes Your Sound

Feb 28, 2013

SFX Entertainment Buys Beatport

Feb 27, 2013

Beatport, one of the most popular online stores for fans of dance music, has been bought by SFX Entertainment, a company that has invested heavily in the dance music business over the past year. According to sources with direct knowledge of the deal, the company was sold for around $50 million.

"[With this purchase] you now have a great one-stop shop for consumers of dance music," says SFX Entertainment CMO Chris Stephenson.

A petite woman prances across the stage at Kurdistan TV in Erbil, northern Iraq, with her long, brown hair bouncing behind her.

A band begins to play, the studio audience falls quiet, and the woman starts to sing. Her voice is powerful and her message is personal: It's about fleeing to a foreign land to find freedom.

If I wrote operas, my next work would be called DSKNY. That's a snazzy abbreviation for Dominique Strauss-Kahn New York. The idea came last night when colleagues invited me for cocktails at the Sofitel Hotel, the site of DSK's alleged sexual assault of a hotel maid in 2011, and the beginning of his fall from grace.

A Tiny Bit Of Good News For The Record Industry

Feb 26, 2013

There's reason to be optimistic about the market for recorded music around the world, according to a new report released by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. For the first time since 1999, the report says, the global trade value for the recorded music industry (a slightly vague/confusing term for record sales) went up last year by about 0.3 percent.

Gretta Harley arrived in Seattle in 1990, when grunge was redefining the city. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were turning Seattle into the epicenter of the music world. Harley was a punk rock guitarist searching for her tribe, and in Seattle's thriving music scene, she found it.

Music, The Food Of 'Amour'

Feb 23, 2013

Film scores are, by and large, manipulative. They do their work at the periphery of the senses, signaling danger, heralding victory, prodding us toward fear and joy in time with the unfolding story. Crucially, they are also empathic, letting us in on what the actors' words or faces may not convey. And when things get unpleasant, the score can step in as an emotional buffer — a layer of unreality between us and the action that lets us know we're safe. Sunday night at the Oscars, Hollywood will honor a film whose music manages to get all these things right.

Music's New 'Real Ambassadors'

Feb 22, 2013

Zuoxiao Zuzhou is a Chinese singer whose accented, croaky voice is hardly ever in tune. But for his fans he's the voice of a generation — one of the very few voices who dare to speak out. After a collaboration, Cowboy Junkies member Michael Timmins called him "China's Leonard Cohen."

Can You Learn To Like Music You Hate?

Feb 15, 2013

You hear some music you hate. That's fair. We all do on occasion. But can you learn to love — or at least not loathe — that music? Can you intentionally transform the visceral response you have to certain pieces and styles, or does that happen at some more incalculable, subtle level?

Researchers at Australia's University of Melbourne say that the more dissonance (which they describe as "perceived roughness, harshness, unpleasantness, or difficulty in listening to the sound") that we hear in music, the less we enjoy said music. Seems obvious enough, right?

This interview was originally broadcast on Jan. 17, 2013.

After huge critical and commercial success last year, breakthrough British sensation Emeli Sande has her sights set on America.

It's a long way from her roots. Born to a Zambian father and English mother, the singer-songwriter was raised in Scotland. She tells NPR's Michel Martin that being the only mixed-race family in a small village had a big impact on her.

A Brief History Of The Grammy Sales Bump

Feb 15, 2013

As televised prize-givers, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences are slouches. The dozen prizes given out in a typical Grammy Awards telecast is the lowest of any major awards-show telecast, from the Oscars to the Emmys. NARAS gives out the bulk of its little gramophones in an untelevised ceremony.

But as sales-juicers? The Grammys are unparalleled.

We've been able to record sound for over 125 years, but many of the recordings that have been made in that time are in terrible shape. Many more, even recordings made in the past 10 years, are in danger because rapid technological changes have rendered their software obsolete. So Wednesday, the Library of Congress unveiled a plan to help preserve this country's audio archives.

The trumpeter and educator Donald Byrd, a top jazz practitioner in the '50s and '60s whose later work shaped black pop music through multiple generations, died Feb. 4 in Dover, Del. Haley Funeral Directors near Detroit confirmed the news, which was first circulated online last week. He was 80.

Listen to Mandalit del Barco's radio report from the Grammys at the audio link.

Sunday night's Grammys are an opportunity to rain accolades on pop music and perhaps witness the musical return of Justin Timberlake. But each year, the Recording Academy also honors recordings of "lasting significance" by inducting them into the Grammy Hall of Fame. One of them this year is Kentucky fiddler Bill Stepp's performance of "Bonaparte's Retreat."

Frank Ocean is set to take a victory lap at this year's Grammys. He's up for six awards for his album Channel Orange, including best new artist, and he'll be performing as well. But just a few months ago, Frank Ocean's music wasn't the story — his sexuality was.

To review: After a listening party for Channel Orange last July, a BBC journalist pointed out that a few of the love songs referenced a "him" where you might have expected to hear "her."

In the hippest building on what has been called the coolest block in America, Venice Beach's Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Jeff Bhasker is wearing white jeans and a T-shirt, smoking an American Spirit cigarette. He's seated at his brand new piano in his brand new apartment.

The No. 1 song in the country right now is "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, a rap group out of Seattle. Their claim to fame: They got the song to the top of the chart by themselves, without being signed by a major label.

Pioneering American conductor, National Medal of Arts winner and poet James DePreist died early this morning in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 76 years old. His death, his manager told Deceptive Cadence, stemmed from complications following a heart attack he suffered nearly a year ago.

If you took one song each from the artists likely to walk away with Grammy awards on Sunday night, you'd have a pretty decent playlist.

Among the hundreds of musicians vying for Grammy Awards this year is Al Walser, a Los Angeles-based disc jockey and singer whose song "I Can't Live Without You" is nominated in the best dance single category. Walser is not a widely known name — many Grammy nominees aren't — but he's competing in a category against some of pop music's heaviest hitters.