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The Record
9:43 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 6:28 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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Deceptive Cadence
7:05 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Best Classical Albums Of 2014

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Become Ocean by John Luther Adams is one of NPR Classical's favorite albums of 2014.
Cantaloupe

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 9:59 am

Most years, Tom Huizenga and I spend a lot of time after Thanksgiving and well into December battling over — or, more truthfully, having many friendly but spirited discussions about — which recordings should comprise our 10 favorites of the year. We each come up with a list of 10, and then we start hammering things out in some amount of exquisite music-nerd agony. Some albums we agree upon, some are our individual picks.

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Microphone Check
11:29 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

J. Cole: 'Ain't Enough Of Us Trying'

J Cole, whose mother supported him as a postal worker when he was a kid.
Courtesy of the artist

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

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World Cafe
3:06 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Elephant Stone On World Cafe

Elephant Stone.
Bowen Stead & Daniel Barkley Courtesy of the artist

Montreal's Elephant Stone combines the sounds of Indian classical music and '60s psychedelic rock — the two loves of frontman, bassist and sitar player Rishi Dhir.

"It's music I was brought up on," Dihr says. "The idea of fusing pop music with Eastern instrumentation was never a foreign thing. It was just something that seemed natural to me. You listen to this music, you absorb all these influences. What comes out is what you can do."

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Mountain Stage
2:57 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Janiva Magness On Mountain Stage

Janiva Magness.
Brian Blauser Mountain Stage

Janiva Magness appears on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.Va. One of blues music's most decorated vocalists, Magness drew her earliest musical inspirations from the sounds of her native Detroit and her father's record collection. After losing both her parents, Magness spent her teen years in foster homes, and eventually found her way to an Otis Rush concert in Minneapolis. Her job as a recording engineer in St. Paul led to session work as a background singer, and before long, she was leading her own band.

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Favorite Sessions
1:40 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

KCRW Presents: Real Estate

Real Estate performs live on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic.
Libby Pierson KCRW

Real Estate's music conjures a specific feeling of warm nostalgia for sunny days gone by. And, while the aesthetic may seem like simple, laid-back guitar-rock, there's a method to this style. On its third studio album, Atlas, Real Estate puts extra effort into its subtly layered sound, and the result can be heard in this studio performance of the album highlight "Talking Backwards."

SET LIST

  • "Talking Backwards"
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Alt.Latino
1:20 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Hear The Songs Alt.Latino Missed In 2014

Hear the premiere of a song from Miami singer Kat Dahlia on this week's Alt.Latino.
Courtesy of the artist

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The Record
1:19 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 9:52 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
7:45 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Ann Powers' Top 15 Albums Of 2014

Unpublished

This story has been set to unpublished due to the NPR API updating this story earlier and now the NPR API is unavailable. If the NPR API has deleted or changed the access level of this story it will be deleted when the API becomes available. If the API has updated this story, the updated version will be made available when the NRP API becomes reachable again. There is no action required on your part. For more information contact Digital Services Client Support

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All Songs Considered
7:03 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Bob Boilen's Top 10 Albums Of 2014

Unpublished

This story has been set to unpublished due to the NPR API updating this story earlier and now the NPR API is unavailable. If the NPR API has deleted or changed the access level of this story it will be deleted when the API becomes available. If the API has updated this story, the updated version will be made available when the NRP API becomes reachable again. There is no action required on your part. For more information contact Digital Services Client Support

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All Songs Considered
6:58 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Robin Hilton's Top 10 Albums Of 2014

Robin Hilton calls Weezer's Everything Will Be Alright In The End "a breathtaking work of art, brilliantly produced.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 9:14 am

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All Songs Considered
6:53 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Stephen Thompson's Top 10 Albums Of 2014

Beyonce unleashed the year's grandest and most enduring pop juggernaut (even if it technically came out in 2013).
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 9:15 am

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Microphone Check
4:28 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Rick Ross: 'It Was Just So Powerful To Me'

Rick Ross.
Courtesy of Def Jam Records

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 11:16 am

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The Thistle & Shamrock
3:42 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

The Thistle & Shamrock: Music Migration

Bruce Molsky.
Joel Didriksen kingpinphoto.com

Host Fiona Ritchie recalls the connections that captured her attention when she first traveled in the U.S. in the early 1980s by exploring what ties her world to the music of the Southern Mountains.

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

The Record
3:23 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 6:21 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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World Cafe
2:35 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Hot Rize On World Cafe

Hot Rize.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri January 23, 2015 8:00 am

Formed in 1978, the Colorado bluegrass band Hot Rize has found itself straddling tradition and innovation since its inception.

"When we were in Colorado, we were the traditional bluegrass band. And when we went east of the Mississippi, we were the progressive one," songwriter and mandolin player Tim O'Brien says. "We were kind of an interesting middle ground there."

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A Blog Supreme
1:45 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Eighty Years Of Master Educator Ellis Marsalis

Ellis Marsalis performs at the NBA All-Star Game in 2008 in New Orleans.
Chris Graythen Getty Images

If anyone has earned the nickname Pops, it's Ellis Marsalis.

As jazz's best-known father figure, the senior Marsalis has four noted musical offspring: Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason. But if you consider all the musicians he's taught or mentored, his clan is even more extensive, diverse and influential.

I talked to six musicians who gave us the long view of the Marsalis family tree, and how they were schooled by its patriarch.

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Mountain Stage
10:45 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Gabriel Kahane On Mountain Stage

Gabriel Kahane.
Brian Blauser Mountain Stage

Gabriel Kahane makes his first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.Va. A composer and singer-songwriter, Kahane — like Kate Miller-Heidke, who appeared later on the same show — uses his classical training to create a distinct strand of American folk-pop music.

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The Best Music Of 2014
10:05 am
Wed December 10, 2014

NPR Music's Favorite Songs Of 2014

NPR

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 3:58 pm

We made you a mixtape. A really long mixtape. In the past, we've kept this list, of our favorite songs of the year, to 100 songs. A nice, round, semi-arbitrary number that always meant leaving out dozens of our favorites.

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Parallels
2:43 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 7:44 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
4:17 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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World Cafe
3:46 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Robyn Hitchcock On World Cafe

Robyn Hitchcock.
Rich McKie XPN

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Music Reviews
3:26 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Wu-Tang's Fabulous Fabulist Returns

Ghostface Killah's new album, 36 Seasons, sees the rapper revive his Tony Starks alter ego.
Brian Level Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 7:06 pm

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Mountain Stage
1:06 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Kate Miller-Heidke On Mountain Stage

Kate Miller-Heidke.
Brian Blauser Mountain Stage

Australian singer-songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke makes her second appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. Trained as an opera singer, Miller-Heidke moves smoothly between pop and her more classical influences, often within the same song.

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Songs We Love
12:39 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Lee Ann Womack, 'The Way I'm Livin" (Live)

Lee Ann Womack performs "The Way I'm Livin'" live in studio.
Courtesy of the artist

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Yusuf/Cat Stevens: Tiny Desk Concert

Susan Hale Thomas NPR

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 1:51 pm

In the summer of 1971, I was a camp counselor at a sleep-away camp for a bunch of 5- to 7-year-olds. For those eight weeks, I walked home with about $50. I bought a guitar and began to learn the songs I'd come to love from the recently released Tea for the Tillerman by Cat Stevens.

"Father and Son" touched me most — it's a song about growing old, and about beliefs and conviction. More than 40 years later, that songwriter is performing at my desk with his son standing right behind me. You can never imagine the turns life will take.

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Music Interviews
4:11 am
Tue December 9, 2014

The Music Midnight Makes: In Conversation With Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell in 1970.
Henry Diltz Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 10:20 am

It turns out that Joni Mitchell keeps the same hours as the Morning Edition staff. She recently showed up at NPR's studio in Culver City, Calif., just before midnight to discuss Love Has Many Faces, a four-disc collection of songs dating back to the 1960s.

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Music News
9:28 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 9:49 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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Metropolis
2:59 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Metropolis: 12/6/14

"Right Now," from Mary J. Blige's new album The London Sessions, is featured on this week's episode of Metropolis.
Alex Lake Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 12:01 pm

This Week's Playlist

  • Kraak & Smaak, "Love Inflation (NSFW Remix)" (Jalapeno)
  • Flight Facilities, "Down To Earth" (Glassnote)
  • James Curd & Luke Million, "Say The Words To You (feat. Nah Man!)" (Mr. Kim's)
  • Lion Babe, "Jump Hi (feat. Childish Gambino) (Todd Edwards Remix)" (Outsiders/Interscope)
  • Eddie Amador & Alex Costa, "New Sound (Dantiez Saunderson Mix)" (KMS)
  • Basement Jaxx, "Just Be Free Wit Ur Body" ([PIAS] America)
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Mountain Stage
2:49 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Béla Fleck And Abigail Washburn On Mountain Stage

Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn.
Brian Blauser Mountain Stage

Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn make their second Mountain Stage appearance together, recorded live in Charleston, W.Va. The two have been billed as the unofficial First Family of the Banjo by bluegrass writers, who've joked as far back as 2007 that the two might produce an heir who would one day become an emperor of the instrument. The jury is still out on the emperor part, but the couple can often be spotted backstage playing and singing to their young son, Juno.

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