Phil Harrell

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What was the best album of 2021? Well, there doesn't seem to be a lot of consensus about that, so we asked our producer Phil Harrell to see what critics came up with.

Jerrilynn Patton grew up in Gary, Ind., and after studying engineering and math, she landed a pretty good job at U.S. Steel. "Put it like this: my life was stable," she says.

It wasn't until she started experimenting with the uniquely Chicago style of electronic music called "footwork" that her career path shifted about as wildly as her compositions. She became Jlin.

It's been more than a decade since the singer/songwriter Adele released her epic breakup album 21, which became one of the most overwhelmingly successful records in history and transformed her from promising talent to indelible superstar.

The time since has brought with it more success — an nearly equally successful third album, 25, a James Bond theme song, sold-out worldwide tours (all of them) — as well as personal growth and struggle. Just like all of us.

NPR turns 50 this year, and we're marking it by looking back on some other things that happened in 1971.

On this day fifty years ago, rock and roll fans lost their minds: It marks the release of Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album.

While "Stairway to Heaven" remains one of the most beloved anthems of all time, and other songs like "Black Dog" and "Rock and Roll" became staples of rock radio, there's a piece of the record that has become singularly iconic.

Ella Yelich-O'Connor, known to the world as Lorde, is embracing a sunnier and more analog sound, full of plucked acoustic guitars and brushed snares. Since releasing her breakout single, "Royals," in 2013, she's made the most of hook-heavy pop songs constructed from a palette of overcast electronic sounds.

"In the past," she says, "I'd hear an acoustic guitar and I'd say 'Oh, here we go. It's about to get painfully authentic!' "

The hip-hop artist known as IDK describes his life as something of a paradox. Born Jason Mills, the rapper-producer grew up in Prince George's County, Maryland, where home and school reflected two different realities: His parents were middle-class, college-educated, but his learning environment lacked support and many of the students were underserved. "I grew up knowing both sides," Mills says in an interview with NPR's A Martínez.

Fifty years ago, on August 1, 1971, the music world descended on Madison Square Garden for an event like no other. It was the first major charity concert of its kind — the Concert for Bangladesh. In that corner of South Asia, civil war, cyclone and floods had created a humanitarian disaster.

"There are six million displaced Bengalis, most of them suffering from malnutrition, cholera and also other diseases that are the result of living under the most dehumanizing conditions," former All Things Considered host Mike Waters reported in July of 1971.

Jack Antonoff has become one of the most in-demand collaborators in music, with credits on the latest albums by Taylor Swift, Lorde, St. Vincent and many others. His work has taken him all over the world, but he never strays too far from his home — at least in his songwriting.

When Prince died in 2016, he left a massive library of unreleased recordings at his studio Paisley Park, which his estate has been sorting through ever since. On July 30, the world will finally get to hear the album Welcome 2 America, a 2010 project from the artist's vault.

The opioid crisis in the U.S. has never gone away.

Almost every year, more people die of opioid overdoses than in the year before. More than a half-million people have died from prescription painkillers, heroin and illicit fentanyl since 1999. Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 66,000 people died of an opioid overdose in the U.S. in the 12 months to September 2020, a huge jump from the previous 12 months.

Will Liverman is a young baritone and a new, exciting voice in the opera world. He is also on something of a mission.

In school, the artist was rarely introduced to Black composers. It was a cumulative interest, patched together by YouTube clips and introductions from colleagues. Now, he wants to expose listeners to music that he feels doesn't get programmed enough in concert halls or receive enough airplay on classical radio stations.

In the 1970s, there were few singer-songwriters more beloved than Cat Stevens. A lot has changed since his landmark album Tea for the Tillerman. For one, he's a grandfather. For two, he's not even Cat Stevens anymore: He's gone by Yusuf Islam, or simply Yusuf, since his conversion to the Muslim faith later that decade.

Morning Edition's series One-Hit Wonders / Second-Best Songs focuses on musicians or bands whose careers in the United States are defined by a single monster hit, and explains why their catalogs have much more to offer.

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Morning Edition's series One-Hit Wonders / Second-Best Songs focuses on musicians or bands whose careers in the United States are defined by a single monster hit, and explains why

Morning Edition's series One-Hit Wonders / Second-Best Songs focuses on musicians or bands whose careers in the United States are defined by a single monster hit, and explains why their catalogs have much more to offer.

Morning Edition's series called One-Hit Wonders / Second-Best Songs focuses on musicians or bands whose careers in the United States are defined by a single monster hit, and explains why their catalogs have much more to offer.

Morning Edition's series called One-Hit Wonders / Second-Best Songs focuses on musicians or bands whose careers in the United States are defined by a single monster hit, and explains why their catalogs have much more to offer.

In this installment, Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis talks about living in Atlanta in the early 1980s, when the band The Georgia Satellites hit No. 2 on the pop charts with its debut single. Read DeCurtis in his own words below, and hear the radio version at the audio link.

Morning Edition's series called One-Hit Wonders / Second-Best Songs focuses on musicians or bands whose careers in the United States are defined by a single monster hit, and explains why their catalogs have much more to offer.

In this installment, NPR Music's Ann Powers argues that Janis Ian, who won the Grammy for best pop vocal performance in 1975 for "At Seventeen," pioneered what we now consider the adult contemporary genre. Read Ann in her own words below, and hear the radio version at the audio link.

This week, Morning Edition begins a series called One-Hit Wonders / Second-Best Songs. Each segment focuses on a musician or band whose career in the United States is defined by a single monster hit, and explains why their catalog has much more to offer.

It was the elephant in the room. Over 20 years after parodying NPR hosts in her recurring sketch, "The Delicious Dish," former Saturday Night Live cast member Ana Gasteyer sat down for an interview with NPR host Noel King.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action.

Every generation has a handful of songs that invoke memories of sweltering days at the beach, barbecue or backyard and the warm nights that follow. Since it's that time of the year again, we're asking: What are the songs of the summer for 2018?

Pioneering rockers like Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard brought the fire of a Pentecostal preacher to their pianos. That same spirit is alive and well in the work of Low Cut Connie, whose fifth album Dirty Pictures (Part 2) comes out May 18.

In 1946, Nat King Cole became the first recording artist to wrap his lush vocals around what would become a standard of the holiday season, "The Christmas Song." But that song was written by a different crooner: Mel Tormé.

NPR's Noel King spoke with Mel Tormé's youngest son, James — an accomplished jazz singer himself — to get the story behind the creation of this Christmas classic.

"Here is musical sterility at its pinnacle. A band that has absolutely no soul, no feeling in the music," critic Lester Bangs declared in 1975. The target of his derision? The British progressive-rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Bangs disdained the band's objective, as he saw it, "to play pre-set solos as fast as you possibly can, [at] breakneck speed, and do it for about five hours."

Katie and Allison Crutchfield are perhaps the hardest-working twins in indie rock today. Born in Birmingham, Ala., Allison and Katie started playing music together in their early teens. Since then, they've been in myriad bands, both with each other and apart. The sisters started The Ackleys when they were 15, then shifted their focus to the pop-punk band P.S. Eliot. After that group disbanded in 2011, the two women split musically.