Music News

Music News
2:36 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

An Old-School Entertainer, Making Jazz In The Present Tense

Stefano Bollani (center) and the musicians who back him on the new album Joy in Spite of Everything. From left: Mark Turner, Bill Frisell, Jesper Bodilsen, Morten Lund.
Paolo Soriani Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 10:20 am

When he sits down to do an interview, jazz pianist Stefano Bollani wants you to know who he is and what he's about.

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The Record
9:38 am
Thu September 4, 2014

Deal With It, Headbangers — Babymetal Is Here

Babymetal perform during the first day of the 2014 Heavy Montreal festival.
Tim Snow

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 3:47 pm

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All Songs Considered
6:03 am
Thu September 4, 2014

The Hopscotch 5

The no-frills punk-pop band See Gulls is one of many Raleigh bands playing the Hopscotch Music Festival.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 7:32 am

Life is full of choices. If you happen to be at the fifth annual Hopscotch Music Festival, taking place Sept. 4-6 in Raleigh, N.C., those choices would include the Dallas thrash-metal band Power Trip, supreme bummer (in the best way) Sun Kil Moon, L.A. electronic duo NGUZUNGUZU and the hooky-as-hell punk group Potty Mouth — and that's just on Friday past midnight.

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Music News
5:50 am
Sun August 31, 2014

Latin Indie Groups Cover Ricky Martin Hits

Originally published on Sun August 31, 2014 11:31 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit



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Music News
5:31 am
Sat August 30, 2014

Taking The Tuba Above And Beyond The Low End

On a new record called Connections: Mind the Gap, tuba player Bob Stewart sums up his career with a showcase of the instrument's versatility.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat August 30, 2014 10:33 am

On a hot, humid afternoon, Bob Stewart has called a rehearsal at his Harlem apartment. Six musicians are in a circle in the living room — on one side, trumpet and trombone; on the other, cello, viola and violin; and in the middle, the elephant in the room — Stewart's tuba.

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Author Interviews
3:23 am
Sat August 30, 2014

Hip-Hop In Print: Brooklyn Publisher Looks To 'Reverse Gentrify' Literature

Rapper Prodigy, shown above performing in New York City, published his debut novel, H.N.I.C., in 2013.
Mike Lawrie Getty Images

Originally published on Sat August 30, 2014 10:33 am

At this summer's Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica, thousands turned up for readings by big-name authors: Salman Rushdie, Jamaica Kincaid, Zadie Smith and Albert Johnson. Odds are the name Albert Johnson doesn't ring a bell. But if you're a hip-hop fan, you might recognize the author by another name: Prodigy. Off and on for the past 20 years, he's been one half of the acclaimed Queens, N.Y., duo Mobb Deep.

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Code Switch
6:02 am
Thu August 28, 2014

How The 'Kung Fu Fighting' Melody Came To Represent Asia

Carl Douglas strikes a pose as he promotes his 1974 song, "Kung Fu Fighting."
Michael Putland Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 30, 2014 7:33 am

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Monkey See
12:41 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

At The VMAs, Beyonce And Nicki Minaj Play With Personas

Beyonce performs on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Sunday night, women gave the most memorable performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, and Stephen Thompson and I got together to chat about the provocations of Nicki Minaj, the royal Beyonce and more.

You can check out the video of all the performances for yourself, from the triple threat of Ariana Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj to the 16-minute Beyonce-stravaganza that closed the show.

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Music News
5:34 am
Sat August 23, 2014

Music Video Awards Compete In An Era Of Reality TV

Originally published on Sat October 4, 2014 7:28 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit



Tomorrow, MTV will continue a 30-year tradition when it presents the annual "Video Music Awards."


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #1: And the winner is - Michael Jackson.

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The Record
6:34 am
Thu August 21, 2014

A Rational Conversation: Do We Really Need A Rock Festival?

No Age performing at FYF Fest at the Los Angeles State Historic Park in August 2013.
Mike Windle Getty Images for FYF

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 6:06 am

"A Rational Conversation" is a column by writer Eric Ducker in which he gets on instant messenger or the phone with a special guest to examine a music-related subject that's entered the pop culture consciousness.

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The Record
1:35 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Taylor Swift Aims For Pop's Throne

A still from the video for "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift.

Originally published on Wed August 20, 2014 9:52 am

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The Record
7:34 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Top 40 In A Summer Of Discontent

A still from the video for "Am I Wrong" by Nico & Vinz.

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 10:54 am

To hear Ann Powers talk with NPR's Audie Cornish about some of the songs that might define the troubling summer of 2014, click the audio link on this page.

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Goats and Soda
3:01 am
Tue August 19, 2014

'Shadow' And 'D-12' Sing An Infectious Song About Ebola

Samuel "Shadow" Morgan.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 9:04 am

Ebola has been responsible for many hundreds of deaths, for fear, for panic, for disbelief and anger.

And for a catchy dance song: "Ebola in Town."

The producers behind this unlikely music are Samuel "Shadow" Morgan and Edwin "D-12" Tweh, who grew up in the shadow of war. They both spent time as kids in refugee camps in Ghana after fleeing the civil war back home in Liberia.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:14 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Met Opera Tentatively Settles With 2 Major Unions

The Metropolitan Opera has settled labor contracts with two of its largest unions.
Jonathan Ticler Metropolitan Opera

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 8:55 pm

A labor crisis threatening to shut down New York's Metropolitan Opera — the largest opera house in the world — appears to have been averted. Two of the major unions announced a tentative settlement this morning. While agreements with 10 additional unions need to be reached by Tuesday night, this represents a major turning point in a bitter dispute.

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Music News
3:03 pm
Sun August 17, 2014

The Man Who Was Gene Ween, Back From The Bottom

Aaron Freeman, formerly known as Gene Ween, released the debut record with his new band, simply called Freeman, this July.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 7:59 am

Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo grew up in New Hope, Pa., and quickly became friends, bonding over their love of music one day in the eighth grade.

"I remember going to his house and he was writing, you know, these punk-rock riffs," Freeman says. "I just started screaming into the mic onto a cheap tape recorder cassette, and that was it."

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Deceptive Cadence
6:11 pm
Sat August 16, 2014

Centenarian Soprano Licia Albanese Dies

Soprano Licia Albanese in an undated photo, posing as Violetta in Verdi's La traviata.
Sedge LeBlang courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera

Originally published on Sun August 17, 2014 6:59 am

Italian-American lyric soprano Licia Albanese, known for her deeply felt character portrayals, died Friday at her home in New York, her son, Joseph Gimma, told NPR Music Saturday. She was 105 years old.

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Youth Radio
1:24 am
Wed August 13, 2014

In Stockton, Calif., Punks Are The New Mall Rats

Frankie Soto is in charge of the "underground" rock shows at an empty storefront in Stockton's Normandy Village Shopping Center.
Brett Myers Youth Radio

Originally published on Fri August 15, 2014 10:03 am

Part of a series on the past, present and future of America's malls

I'm outside a strip mall in Stockton, Calif. It's got a big Asian grocery store, a pet shop and a secondhand store called D. Thrift. There are about 50 kids my age — all in their late teens and early 20s — talking and smoking in front of an empty storefront. It used to be a cellphone shop and before that a place that sold diet pills, but tonight it's the best underground rock show in town, headlining Stockton's own Satan Wriders.

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The Two-Way
8:22 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Musical Interlude: Pianist Wows Passengers At Prague Airport

Maan Hamadeh, a musician from Lebanon, put on an impromptu concert in a Prague airport after spotting a piano.

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 12:17 pm

The piano wasn't fancy, and the acoustics were bad. But a performance of Beethoven's "Für Elise" at a Prague airport is drawing rave reviews. The impromptu concert was put on by a traveler who brightened the mood in a departure lounge and earned applause by taking on the classic in a variety of styles.

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Music News
2:14 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

'Calling All Fans': Korean Pop Invasion Rallies Americans In LA

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 6:51 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

Music News
3:17 am
Mon August 11, 2014

First Listen: 'Tudo' By Bebel Gilberto

Bebel Gilberto's new album, Tudo, comes out Aug. 19.
Harper Smith Harper Smith

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 10:40 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

Music News
3:03 pm
Sun August 10, 2014

Fifty Years Of 'Farmer John': A Hit That Opened The Door For Chicano Rock

The Premiers in 1964. From left: Tony Duran, John Perez, Lawrence Perez, Frank Zuniga and George Delgado.
Warner Bros. / Courtesy of Mark Guerrero

Originally published on Sun August 10, 2014 5:34 pm

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Brain Candy
3:13 pm
Sat August 9, 2014

Pump Up The Bass, Feel Like A Boss

Hearing 50 Cent's "In Da Club" made music-listeners feel more powerful.

Originally published on Sat August 9, 2014 3:15 pm

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The Record
9:51 am
Fri August 8, 2014

A Rational Conversation: Will Bikini Kill Ever Make The Rock Hall Of Fame?

Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna in 1993.
Jeff Kravitz Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 10:29 am

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Music News
2:02 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Your Favorite Songs, Abridged

A Top 40 radio station in Canada is promising listeners "twice the music" — by cutting songs in half.
nalexander iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 4:43 pm

Last Friday, a Top 40 radio station in Calgary, Alberta, introduced listeners to a new format. As one on-air stinger put it, "90.3 AMP: Now twice the music."

When they say "twice the music," though, they actually mean half the song. That is, this station plays songs that have been heavily edited: long opening riffs, instrumental breaks, even a chorus or two might disappear. The goal, the station's representatives say, is to keep listeners from getting bored.

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A Blog Supreme
11:20 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Newport Jazz 2014 In Photos

Cécile McLorin Salvant performed two sets at Newport, including one for a main-stage crowd on the festival's sunny opening day.
Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 8:50 am

The Newport Jazz Festival turned 60 this year, and expanded to three days to celebrate. Throughout last weekend, more than 45 bands performed at Fort Adams State Park in coastal Rhode Island, playing through abundant sunshine, pouring rain and anything in between.

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Music News
3:04 pm
Sun August 3, 2014

Met Opera's Union Lockout Postponed; Financial Analysis To Come

A worker unveils advertisement for future productions at the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center in New York City. The Metropolitan Opera's general manager Peter Gelb has threatened a lockout if there is no an agreement with unions to that represent musicians, stagehands and other employees.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 10:11 am

Labor negotiations for New York's Metropolitan Opera took a surprising turn Saturday evening. Twelve of the opera's 16 unions faced the threat of a lockout at midnight Sunday, but negotiations were put on hold for a week while an outside analyst takes a look at the Met's finances.

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Music News
6:34 am
Sat August 2, 2014

At The Cradle Of Country Music, A Monument You Can Hear As Well As See

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum takes its name from a recording session in 1927, which produced such future stars as Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family.
Malcolm Wilson Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Originally published on Sat August 2, 2014 9:40 am

When you exit Interstate 81 in southwestern Virginia and arrive in the small city of Bristol, you see what it looks like to age. The Art Deco Paramount Theater on State Street has not only the good bones, but also the healthy glow it did when it was built more than 80 years ago. Back then, this small southern city was an unavoidable stop for travelers.

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Deceptive Cadence
4:00 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Meet The Cast Of The Met Opera's Labor Drama

Members of the American Guild of Musical Artists and the American Federation of Musicians, two of the unions embroiled in contract negotiations with Metropolitan Opera management, rally this morning at Dante Park across from Lincoln Center.
Jeff Lunden for NPR

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 11:37 am

Think opera plots are tough to follow? Try wading through the complicated drama playing out offstage at the Metropolitan Opera. At its most basic, it's the story of management and labor unions fighting over a supposedly dwindling pot of money.

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Newport Jazz Festival
2:25 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

'As Long As They Want To Play': Newport Jazz At 60

Velma Middleton is accompanied by Louis Armstrong at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival.
Paul S;ade Getty

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 2:22 pm

This year, the Newport Jazz Festival is celebrating its 60th anniversary. For most of that time, its guiding force has been producer George Wein, who remembers all too well the first event in 1954.

It was pouring rain. Wein was being urged to call it off but refused. The audience stayed, broke out their umbrellas, and the musicians played. The scene was caught by a photographer.

"And that picture went out all over the world," Wein says, "of people sitting for five hours in the rain, listening to jazz."

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Music News
3:03 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Making The Label Matter: A Record Company's Return From Obscurity

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 6:07 pm

Today, there's so much music being released that it can be hard to know what to check out, let alone buy. Mark Rye says that when he worked at a record label in the 1970s, the process was easier — in part because you could often guess what a record would sound like if you knew who released it.

"At that time, it was very much an identifier for the kind of music," he says. "So you would go into a record shop and you would look for what the new releases on certain labels were because those records were probably the kind of music that you would like."

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