Ann Powers

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So all right, how about a little optimism for the new year? Ann Powers of NPR Music has been looking ahead to a few uplifting new albums.

ANN POWERS, BYLINE: In 2022, I feel like we need a lot of healing, so I'm turning to music that really empowers me.

Inducting the Foo Fighters into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in October, Paul McCartney noted the almost eerie parallels between the group's jovial leader, Dave Grohl, and himself. Both men entered the realm of rock legend as rhythm-section anchors in paradigm-shifting bands: Macca as bassist for The Beatles, for whom he was also a primary songwriter, and Grohl as the drummer who helped take Nirvana worldwide. Both recovered from history-altering group implosions by retreating to the studio and making albums mostly in solitude.

Ann Powers

Dec 16, 2021

The end of 2021 is offering a powerful, if jarring message to culture critics whose egos are bound up in their opinions. A few great songs and albums are surfacing as consensus picks within the morass of year-end best-of features, but even those represent nonconformist impulses and private pleasures more than any sense of a public sphere. And the proliferation of lists makes it difficult to have a maverick opinion, too: Everything is being touted by someone, somewhere.

Watching the cozily epic concert segments of Adele's album-launching Oprah special Sunday evening, I couldn't help thinking she'd gifted reviewers with a metaphor. She stood on the steps of the Griffith Observatory in a gown that enclosed her shoulders like a black cirrus cloud, glittering Saturn-shaped baubles dangling from her ears. A tattoo of the orb with her current home, Los Angeles, at its center graced the forearm holding her microphone.

Allow them to reintroduce themselves: They are Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, two powerhouse musical polymaths whose faces and fingerprints are all over the past decade of pop, hip-hop and R&B. But as of today, you can officially call them by the name on the cover of their collaborative debut, An Evening with Silk Sonic.

This #NowPlaying discovery comes to us from the Best Music of October podcast on All Songs Considered.

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The spirit of The Velvet Underground has permeated this season, thanks to Todd Haynes'

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In 1975, 24-year-old singer-songwriter Janis Ian's beloved ballad "At Seventeen" brought an invisible figu

Erin Rae, 'Modern Woman'

Oct 13, 2021

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Change can sound itself out in shouts or murmurs.

NPR turns 50 this year, and we're marking it by looking back on some other things that happened in 1971. It was that year that songwriter John Prine released his debut album. Prine died in 2020.

Lil Nas X, 'Jolene'

Sep 21, 2021

BBCRadio1 / YouTube

This had to happen.

Chlöe, 'Have Mercy'

Sep 10, 2021

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It's fun when an artist turns what others have called out as flaws into elements of empowerment.

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When did Emmylou Harris officially become Queen of Nashville?

The last weeks of this stifling August have offered a profound lesson about creativity, music history and the magic of being part of something larger than yourself. The deaths of Tom T.

NPR Music's Turning the Tables is a project envisioned to challenge sexist and exclusionary conversations about musical greatness. Up until now we have focused on overturning conventional, patriarchal best-of lists and histories of popular music. But this time, it's personal. For 2021, we're digging into our own relationships to the records we love, asking: How do we know as listeners when a piece of music is important to us?

It's been a week full of heavy news from the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan to the COVID surges in the U.S. to the destruction in Haiti after a massive earthquake. We hope you're managing in whatever way works best for you.

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Our friends at NPR Music are always on the lookout for great new songs.

(SOUNDBITE OF ADIA VICTORIA SONG, "MAGNOLIA BLUES")

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When it comes to music, mentioning "atmosphere" can feel superficial, like noticing the velvet drapes and cedarwood smell in a restaur

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Madi Diaz, 'Resentment'

Jul 28, 2021

Anti / YouTube

On her upcoming album History of a Feeling, Nashville singer-songwriter Madi Diaz examines

This Song Is About You

Jul 22, 2021

In the final fading moments of "Wilshire," the centerpiece on his chart-topping album Call Me If You Get Lost, Tyler the Creator admits he's just broken one of his own rules. He's spent eight minutes peeling off the skin of a secret, sharing myriad details of an emotional affair with a friend's significant other. "Wilshire"'s narrative is digressive, dodgy, the backtracking confession of someone who feels innocent but can't help but share the evidence against himself.

Yebba, 'October Sky'

Jul 15, 2021

Yebba Smith LLC/RCA Records / YouTube

It's a hard time to be a champion singer in pop – the kind who can really nail a vocal run, hit a high note with golden confidence and in

Dead Oceans / YouTube

There's a certain kind of dance hit that's so hooky it's irritating.

Interscope Records / YouTube

Allison Ponthier is the latest would-be It Girl of the In-Between.

I imagine Joni getting ready, again, to explain that masterpiece. She unwraps a pack of smokes.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

There are only a couple of weeks left in 2020 and a lot has happened. So, it's understandable if you maybe didn't hear all of the great music that came out – there was a lot of it. In this episode, World Cafe's Nashville correspondent and NPR pop critic Ann Powers is bringing you some of the artists from the Music City that you might have missed this year.

Diary Of A Fugue Year

Dec 16, 2020

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