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  • Bob Boilen's Top 50 Songs of 2017

    Enlarge this image JJ Mitchell (left) and Hana Elion of Overcoats. Anna Azarov/Courtesy of the artist hide captiontoggle caption Anna Azarov/Courtesy of the artist Despite the flood of new music in 2017, there were songs I came back to over and over again. I still star-rate my downloaded songs in iTunes (the main reason I don't care to migrate to Spotify), so when the end of the year arrived I sorted my songs by star ratings and went back over the best of the bunch, then narrowed things down to a list of my 50 favorite songs of 2017, eliminating duplicates from the same record.The playlist below has 49 of those 50. Spotify is missing one, as is every other streaming service. The song is "Silly" by PWR BTTM. PWR BTTM is a band I loved. I heard its second album, Pageant, long before it was scheduled to be released, and long before Ben Hopkins was caught up in allegations of sexual assault earlier this year. For many, those ...

  • A Jazz Piano Christmas 2017

    Enlarge this image Abelita Mateus, Marcia Ball, Helen Sung and Joanne Brackeen were this year's A Jazz Piano Christmas guests. Jati Lindsay/Courtesy of the Kennedy Center hide captiontoggle caption Jati Lindsay/Courtesy of the Kennedy Center What are the holidays without Charlie Brown?Nowadays, the quietly elegant and celebratory recordings by pianist Vince Guaraldi have become as much a part of the holidays as the sound of unwrapping presents. And every year we are treated to at least one interpretation of that classic Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack by one of the pianists on NPR's A Jazz Piano Christmas. This year is no exception.In fact, listening to our annual show every from the host podium, it's amazing how the music originally meant for the lovable Peanuts characters has become as integral as other classics.Our guests this year bear this out: Abelita Mateus, Helen Sung, Marcia Ball and NEA Jazz Master Joanne ...

  • Here's Why Black Thought's 10-Minute Freestyle Is So Remarkable

    Enlarge this image Black Thought's latest freestyle reinforces the art of lyrical acrobatics in hip-hop. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images hide captiontoggle caption Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images The Roots' Black Thought proved yesterday that eviscerating lyricism still matters in hip-hop when the rapper dropped a nonstop, awe-inspiring 10-minute freestyle on Funkmaster Flex's Hot 97 radio show.Spitting over the beat of Mobb Deep's "The Learning (Burn)," the Philly MC delivered a performance that's so impressive, his name began trending on social media last night after the freestyle published on YouTube. Just as the fanfare ensued, Black Thought himself hopped on Twitter to drop a little humble brag about the whole thing."That verse was just what I had to say at the moment," the rapper tweeted.As a co-founder of The Roots and member of TheTonight Show band, fans have a chance to see Black Thought rhyme on television ...

  • Emily Haines On World Cafe

    Enlarge this image Emily Haines Justin Broadbent/Courtesy of the artist hide captiontoggle caption Justin Broadbent/Courtesy of the artist "Legend Of The Wild Horse""Nihilist Abyss"In this session, we slip into the world of Emily Haines and The Soft Skeleton. Haines is the lead singer of the electro-tinged rock and roll band Metric, but in her solo work you won't find any wailing guitars or radical synths — the spotlight shines right on her voice and the work of art that is her songwriting.Hear Emily Haines, solo on the piano, in the player above.World Cafe: 12/14/17Let's block ads! (Why?)

  • Stephen Thompson's Top 10 Albums Of 2017

    Enlarge this image Sylvan Esso's What Now is Stephen Thompson's favorite album of 2017. Shervin Lainez/Courtesy of the artist hide captiontoggle caption Shervin Lainez/Courtesy of the artist It's hard not to view 2017 as a year of great reckoning; as a time in which the world is forced to contemplate consequences ranging from ugly political divides to environmental disasters to a wave of high-profile resignations and humiliations over decades of sexual misconduct. Though escapism will always have its place in pop culture, 2017 has been a year of complacency deferred and sleeping giants roused. So it's only natural that much of the year's best music would reflect that tumult, albeit in radically different ways.As always, this list compiles the 10 favorite albums — not the 10 "best," mind you — of one subjective listener. If your favorite album of 2017 missed the cut, rest assured that it's nesting comfortably in a many-way ...

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