Archive For The “Music” Category

Fever Ray Teases First New Music In Eight Years

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Fever Ray Teases First New Music In Eight Years
[embedded content]
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Advisory: The above video contains language that some may find offensive.

Karin Dreijer-Andersson likes to play; the pitch-shifted vocals found on Fever Ray‘s self-titled 2009 debut forced questions of authorship, voice and beauty through ritualistic electro-pop.

Outside of and after that record, her experimental approach to — well, everything — has been clear. There’s that one time Fever Ray accepted an award while gurgling through a melted face mask. Her sibling duo The Knife recently announced a live DVD with a pair of surreal knife demonstrations. And, as of yesterday, she has a Swedish phone number for lonely singles (“Karma Kinksters”) that you can call where someone gargles veiled threats, then shouts before you hear the beep to leave a message. (I know, I called and am still confused/delighted.)

Something’s up! And now there’s a minute-long teaser video with new music on Fever Ray’s YouTube channel. “Sadist, empathetic switch seeks same,” reads the onscreen text. “For hours and hours of sharing: ideas, skin warmth, breath, politics, dreams, and body fluids.”

It’s been eight years since Fever Ray’s debut, an album born out of sleepless new-mother nights, animated with striking and surreal imagery. The psychedelic-dub music teased here prowls and slinks, as Dreijer-Andersson shouts, “This house makes it hard to f***.” Maybe we’re getting the raunchy Tinder album from Fever Ray we didn’t know we wanted or would ever be prepared for.

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Pink's New Album Inspired By Life's Beauty And Trauma

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Pink's New Album Inspired By Life's Beauty And Trauma

On her latest album, Pink, aka Alecia Moore, sings about the beauty and trauma of life. NPR’s Michel Martin speaks with Moore about her new album, Beautiful Trauma. LANGUAGE ADVISORY: The f-word word is bleeped at approximately 0:45.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Finally today, she’s gotten us pumped up for parties, consoled us through breakups, encouraged the misfits, made the meek feel strong. For close to 20 years now, Pink has offered songs that are honest, sometimes heartbreaking but always fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “SO WHAT”)

PINK: (Singing) Na-na-na-na (ph), na-na na, I want to start a fight. So so what? I’m still a rockstar. I got my rock moves. And I don’t need you.

MARTIN: She’s kept up the tradition with her latest album, her seventh. It’s called “Beautiful Trauma.”

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “BEAUTIFUL TRAUMA”)

PINK: (Singing) ‘Cause I’ve been on the run so long, they can’t find me. You waking up to remember I’m pretty. And when the chemicals leave my body, yeah, they’re going to find me in a hotel lobby ’cause tough times, they keep coming, all night laughing and [expletive]. Some days like I’m barely breathing. And after we were high in the love, doped out, it was you.

MARTIN: We’ll be bleeping some of that, but…

PINK: Yeah.

MARTIN: That’s Pink. And Pink aka Alecia Moore is with us now from our bureau in New York. Pink, welcome. Welcome back, I should say.

PINK: Hi.

MARTIN: Thanks for joining us once again.

PINK: Thank you for having me. Do you know what I think happened? I think it’s ’cause I’m around my kids all day long, and then I go to the studio at night. And I haven’t been able to curse at all. And then I finally get behind a microphone. I’m like, I’m free. I’m free to say what I really think.

MARTIN: Well, that then describes how so many people listen to your albums in the car, doesn’t it?

PINK: (Laughter) Yeah.

MARTIN: Well, congratulations on the latest album. It’s climbing up the charts as we speak.

PINK: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

MARTIN: So where’d the title come from?

PINK: I think life is really traumatic, and it feels – even though it makes me sound like my parents to say this – it feels like it’s getting more so. But I also think that there’s really beautiful people in the world. And there’s more good than bad. And there’s love to be made and joy to be had. And I try to hold on to the beautiful part. But, you know, my dad always says something to me. He says, I wish you enough. And what he means by that is I wish you enough rain to be able to enjoy the sunshine. And I wish you enough hard times to be able to enjoy the easy bits. And that’s beautiful trauma to me. It’s simultaneous, but it just depends on which part you’re looking at.

MARTIN: Do you think that what you mean to people has changed over time? I went through a lot of the old videos starting, you know, back in the day and looking at the comments. And the comments are very – they’ve changed, like, because they’ve changed with you. But for a lot of kids, it’s like, well, I always play this song when I’m getting ready to go out. Or – and then it’s like, I play this song when I need to be lifted up. Or there are things like, I play this song when I feel like I can’t keep it all together. And it’s very interesting because I feel like in one way, your audience has grown up with you. On the other hand, you’re still finding people who are finding you at different points, like when you were 15 and 20 and…

PINK: I love that idea. I think I’m just a hot mess and (laughter) people appreciate that. But I look like – I go on tour. And I look at the audience. And I can see every age. There’s no real demographic. There’s – it’s very surprising. It’s three generations. And that’s what I love about music. That’s – it just – it’s the only sort of universal language that we all speak. And I don’t know. I just – I love that part. It’s wonderful.

MARTIN: I’m trying to decide whether I want to play “Barbies” now or “What About Us.” What should we do? Which one should we play now?

PINK: I don’t know. Do you want to be sad or fired up?

MARTIN: Let’s go with fired up. OK. Let’s play “What About Us.” Let’s go with – I don’t think you could make me sad, so here it is. Let’s play “What About Us” and we’ll talk about that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “WHAT ABOUT US”)

PINK: (Singing) We are searchlights. We can see in the dark. We are rockets pointed up at the stars. We are billions of beautiful hearts. And you sold us down the river too far. What about us? What about all the times you said you had the answers?

MARTIN: I heard this song cold, like knowing nothing about it. And I’m thinking, boy, this could be about a relationship. This could be about a family. And this could certainly be about what’s happening more broadly. So without kind of ruining it for people who are just hearing it for the first time, do you mind if I ask, what were you thinking about when you wrote this?

PINK: I think that’s so interesting. I played this for one of my girlfriends a while ago. And she said, oh, my goodness, the way you write about your relationship and your love, and to me, that’s love. And I thought in the back of my head because that’s, for me – I’ll tell you what I wrote it about – but at that moment, I was like, wow, you should never tell somebody what a song is about because I never want to take away their meaning.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “WHAT ABOUT US”)

PINK: (Singing) We were willing. We came when you called. But, man, you fooled us. Enough is enough, oh. What about us?

The place I was coming from was just sort of I just feel like we’ve been failed by our government and that we have this very dysfunctional relationship. And that government in general has a dysfunctional relationship within itself. And, you know, I grew up listening to my mom and dad argue, and it just feels like that. And there’s a lot of people that feel forgotten and invisible and are being made to feel less than and unwanted and unloved. And it hurts my heart. And so I have a pen, and I write. I write about that.

MARTIN: You know, it’s been such an interesting just week when it comes to that because you had some tweets earlier this week directed at the president. You said, you know, POTUS, you’re doing a terrible job, worse than every other job you’ve done terrible at. Do you seriously have time to worry about the NFL?

PINK: (Laughter) Yes.

MARTIN: And then you posted a more kind of – I don’t know – a sort of a gentler message, saying, look, I’ve seen people change and turn their lives around. There’s still hope for you. It’s what the world needs. And then…

PINK: That was one of the least cynical moments of my life and I paid dearly for it.

MARTIN: Well, that’s what – you know, you got all this backlash from people. I found that fascinating, given that you’ve…

PINK: I did too. It hurt my heart actually.

MARTIN: Yeah. Tell me about that. I mean, given that you’ve never been shy about your critiques of political leaders.

PINK: Sure.

MARTIN: I mean, you wrote a piece in 2006, an open letter to President Bush. So tell me what this has been like for you and what you make of it. I’m curious what you make of it.

PINK: This part has been – just from the Twitter, just from the misunderstanding of that, that actually broke my heart. I cried a lot about that. I’m really sad about where we are as people. And it’s always been very hard for me to tolerate injustice and inequality and racism and homophobia and sexism and all these things. And I’ve been fighting my entire life against it. And to be misunderstood that way, it just – it broke my heart. And we’re all so defensive. And we’re all so divided that we can no longer communicate. And that tweet, in particular, was – I have seen people come back from heroin addiction. I’ve seen people come back from alcoholism and the worst kind of alcoholism. I’ve seen people that were abusive stop being abusive. I’ve seen change. And I have to believe that change is possible because if I stop believing that, then it’s just a little too much for me.

MARTIN: What do you feel, as an artist, is your responsibility right now?

PINK: As an artist, I mean, you know, I grew up with a Vietnam vet dad and a Vietnam vet stepmom and a nurse for a mom and people that have always been of service. And my dad’s nickname is Mr. Cause. I grew up listening to rock ‘n’ roll and, you know, protest music. And I feel like with songs like “What About Us” and “Dear Mr. President” and even “Stupid Girls,” I’m doing my part a little bit. I’m doing a little bit of my part. And it’s very clear who I am and what I believe in. And I’ve been marching and protesting. And, yes, I could do so much more. Honestly, I could do so much more.

MARTIN: Well, thanks for talking with us.

PINK: Sure (laughter).

MARTIN: It’s always great talking with you. And it’s still fun. And you’re still laughing.

PINK: Sure. And you should try my cheesecake.

MARTIN: I know, right?

PINK: (Laughter).

MARTIN: What do you want to go out on? What should we go out on?

PINK: Oh, my God, play something happy (laughter).

MARTIN: Or, I don’t know, “Secrets”? You want to do that?

PINK: “Secrets” is fun. Do “Secrets.” That’s a good one.

MARTIN: All right, “Secrets.” All right.

PINK: That’s a good dance song.

MARTIN: That is Pink joining us from our bureau in New York on the occasion of her latest album, “Beautiful Trauma.” And this weekend, she just appeared on “Saturday Night Live” and doing all a bunch of good stuff. Pink, thank you so much for speaking with us once again.

PINK: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “SECRETS”)

PINK: (Singing) What do we conceal? What do we reveal? Make that decision.

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Barbershop: U.S. Men's Soccer Loss, Boy Scouts And Eminem

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Barbershop: U.S. Men's Soccer Loss, Boy Scouts And Eminem

The U.S. men’s soccer team failed to qualify for the World Cup, the Boy Scouts are letting girls join their ranks and Eminem has a bone to pick with the president. CNN’s AJ Willingham, The Guardian‘s Les Carpenter and columnist Gustavo Arellano discuss.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now it’s time for the Barbershop. That’s where we gather interesting folks to talk about what’s in the news and what’s on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shapeup today are Les Carpenter. He is a writer for The Guardian, and he’s with us from our studios in Washington, D.C. Les, welcome. Thanks for joining us.

LES CARPENTER: Welcome. Thank you.

MARTIN: All right. Also with us, writer and journalist Gustavo Arellano. He’s known for his nationally syndicated column “Ask A Mexican” and his book “Taco Usa: How Mexican Food Conquered America.” He’s with us from KUCI in Irvine, Calif. Gustavo, welcome back.

GUSTAVO ARELLANO: Hola, Michel.

MARTIN: And welcome back to CNN writer AJ Willingham, who joins us from WCLK in Atlanta. AJ, good to have you back with us as well.

AJ WILLINGHAM: Good afternoon, Michel.

MARTIN: So let’s start the conversation today with what is an open wound for American soccer fans. For the first time since 1986, the U.S. men’s soccer team failed to qualify for the World Cup. They lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago, a team that many felt they could handle. On Friday, U.S. coach Bruce Arena announced his resignation. And…

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRUCE ARENA: It’s a blemish for us. We should not be staying home for this World Cup.

MARTIN: AJ, I’m going to start with you because you focus on sports. What happened here? And I also want to mention that he said also in the same press conference that there was no need for a lot to change. So what happened, and is he right, does nothing need to change?

WILLINGHAM: I think it really depends on what sort of scale we’re looking at. We’re really talking about a matter of scale. What happened is, you know, if Clint Dempsey’s goal had gone in, we would have been going to Russia, but it didn’t. Is that where the conversation stops? Obviously not. Nothing has to change, now, in retrospect, feels like sort of the wrong thing to say. I think that that’s, you know, quite clear that that’s not the case. But what I think happened here is that there is just a lack of passion, both in playing and a lack of an understanding, that if we didn’t make the World Cup, that it would be such a huge deal and such a national embarrassment and such a wake-up call to, you know, to what soccer looks like at a national level for us to what it looks like to viewers and to potential fans and just all up and down the line. And really, I mean, choose where you want to come in on this because, like I said, it’s a matter of inches or it’s a matter of hundreds and thousands of viewers.

MARTIN: So, Les, you wrote – you’ve gotten a lot of attention for a story that you wrote last year on American soccer’s diversity problem. I mean, your piece argued that soccer in the U.S., unlike the rest of the world, is kind of a white upper-class-suburban sport. And that kind of hurts the – it just hurts the sort of the pool of players, the talent that would be available. You want to talk a little bit more about that?

CARPENTER: Well, it not only hurts the pool of players, it also hurts the idea of a culture, which is what I think U.S. Soccer really needs to be looking at right now. It’s not such a matter of, oh, we’re just a couple inches away against Trinidad and Tobago. We could have just gone to another World Cup. It’s a matter of, what kind of style does the U.S. play? Who is us trying to be? And I think that soccer’s played great by Latinos who have come to this country and a lot of places that don’t have access to what’s become a pay-for-play system in this country. You have so many of these leagues right now where if you’re rich, you have a lot of money, you can get on a team. And if you’re halfway good, you have a good chance of getting to a big college, getting seen by the national team people.

But what happens to all these people that have come from Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, where the kids, you know, from those families are playing just on the streets? They don’t have access to the system, and yet, their style is so free, and it’s what’s played around the rest of the world. The U.S. is very robotic. And I feel like what we see now, the culture and the style and the U.S. is Americanized. We’ve taken soccer and just coached it coached and coached it, so you don’t really have that free kind of open style that you have elsewhere, and it’s starting to hurt at this level.

MARTIN: OK. But let me just raise one issue here, which is that you look at the U.S. women’s gymnastics team that competed so successfully at the last Olympics, 3 of the 5 people on that team were girls of color. It’s an extremely expensive sport. So what is the deal with that? You know, these are also people who, you know, Gabby Douglas made no secret of the fact that this was tremendously costly to her family, but somehow she was able to get there. So what’s the difference, you know what I mean?

CARPENTER: Well, obviously, it’s – even for wealthy families, these things are going to be extremely expensive.

MARTIN: She’s not wealthy.

CARPENTER: But, I mean, there’s – the action – the commitment has been there from her parents. I mean, you’re talking in many cases with soccer about people who have come to this country with nothing or people who have almost nothing and their kids are wonderful, wonderful players, but they can’t get into that system. It’s a big – obviously, you’re looking at a much bigger pool – in gymnastics where you’re – it’s a tiny group of players – athletes. With soccer, it’s a massive, massive group. And yet, these kids don’t have a shot at even just the basic level of organized soccer that gets you seen to that level where Gabby Douglas is training in a high level play for the U.S. Olympic team. You don’t have the access to be seen in this country at that level.

MARTIN: Gustavo, what do you think?

ARELLANO: First and foremost, respect to all the Trinnies (ph) out there for their amazing victory over the U.S.

MARTIN: True that.

ARELLANO: I had a huge bowl of callaloo in their honor, so God bless them for that. I agreed with everything that Les said. I mean, this is what it boils down to. Why should – I mean, we have immigrant populations who are crazy about soccer, that are playing on the field at parks all across the United States from New York City down here to Santa Ana in Orange County. They’re playing all the time. And they’re playing in leagues. They are playing in their own leagues that are way cheaper than whatever leagues you need to get into U.S. soccer. So the parents are going to say, well, why should my kids play in the expensive leagues when you could just play at the Saturday leagues?

More importantly though, a lot of – and this is a big problem that I think U.S. Soccer still has to solve and they can’t – a lot of these players, if they could get dual citizenship, if you ask your typical Mexican-American kid right now, if you want to be a great soccer player, would you play for the Mexican squad, El Tri, or are you going to play for the United States? Ninety percent of them would go to El Tri, not just out of loyalty but also because, frankly, El Tri’s going to be a better team than the U.S. But then, you know, and I also have to say, Mexicans are so happy that the United States is not going into the World Top. That said, us Mexicans, we have our own problems as well so we could be happy about that, but whatever. We’re going to flame out in the second round like we do every year or every Cup, I mean.

MARTIN: (Laughter) All right. Well, you know, let me just point out – AJ, let me go back to you on this – a lot of people were quick to point out that one American soccer team still has a shot to make their World Cup. The women’s team went undefeated in 2015 and won the World Cup. So, AJ, is there something that the men can learn from the women, or is the same problem going to catch up with them? Because it has not escaped, I think, anybody’s attention who’s paying attention that the women’s team isn’t particularly diverse either.

WILLINGHAM: What I’m thinking about this, Michel, what I’m thinking is you have to make good soccer in order for people to want to watch good soccer. And there are two things that you can do to make that happen. You either have to be successful, win your games, you know, get those goals in, or you have to be newsworthy. And I think that one thing the U.S. women’s national team has going for them is that they are both of those things. They’re successful, and they are newsworthy off the field. They, you know, they keep the names in the news.

I feel like if you asked a casual viewer who Alex Morgan was, asked a casual viewer who Clint Dempsey, was maybe they know both of them, but I feel like because of the U.S. women’s national team’s success, they know a little bit more about the women. They know a little bit more about what it means to, you know, to cheer for them and to root for them. And so to me, that’s the big sort of thing is that you’re winning games but then you’re keeping yourself in the news. You’re keeping yourself in the headlines, and you’re you’re keeping people’s interest. And I think that those two things feed off of each other.

MARTIN: Let me move to another topic this Wednesday. The Boy Scouts said that girls can now join. And some people were saying that’s cool girls can be Eagle Scouts now, and that’s nice. And for families who maybe have multiple kids, they think that’s great. I only have to go to one community center on the weekends and that’s good for me. But others are not happy including, Girl Scouts USA. And, AJ, sticking with you – sort of focusing on you today, sorry to be sort of giving you the burden of the whole thing, carrying the ball as it were – but you co-authored a piece on CNN this week highlighting some of the negative responses to this. And what’s your take on it?

WILLINGHAM: Yes. So obviously, the Girl Scouts are not going to be happy about this. I want to give them credit. They have certainly done a lot in the last couple of years to try and boost membership. It’s no secret that membership for both the gender scouting sort of organizations have been down over decades. It’s just, you know, it’s something that’s very difficult to modernize. So they have definitely done their part. They brought in consultants. They diversified their programs. But what they did is that they took away some of the attention from outdoor activities. They took away some of that attention from some of the more adventurous programs.

Like I said, it went to other things, but so the Boy Scouts, seeing their numbers go down and seeing their own numbers being hurt by some of the more recent scandals, thus is a perfect opportunity for them to come in. They have the outdoor stuff that a lot of young women are going to be interested in. And most importantly, they have the Eagle Scout designation. And that is something that the Girl Scouts have not been able to replicate, even though they have the wonderful Gold Award. In the culture – in our culture, it is not as prestigiously sort of looked at as that Eagle Scout award, and that is the big thing.

MARTIN: But, you know, Gustavo, do you want to talk about that for a second? You know, they – but the Girl Scouts have other things which is that they have a track record – it’s – an incredible number of women in high levels of achievement have been Girl Scouts. And I don’t know. What’s your take on this?

ARELLANO: Yeah, no, I love the Girl Scouts. You know…

MARTIN: The cookies especially.

ARELLANO: …I buy hundreds of dollars of cookies. And not just the cookies, they also have their nuts sale right now for the winter, so people should be buying those as well. But I have seen so many young women be transformed by the Girl Scouts. And I’ve seen like – they do – they’ve always been a far more progressive organization than the Boy Scouts. What amazes me most about this is how much the Boy Scouts has changed within a generation. About 25 years ago or so, there was a national story that came out of Orange County where there was two scouts who were atheist and they just – they would not say the Pledge of Allegiance or they wouldn’t say under God in the Pledge of Allegiance, so the Boy Scouts at the time booted them.

In a generation, now you’ve gone from such like backward opportunistic ways to the Boy Scouts saying, hey, like, let’s also include girls in there as well. And, of course, it’s all for money. It’s all for getting more membership in there. But yeah, I mean, people – the Girls Scouts is an amazing organization. They really focused on, yeah, let’s teach our young women out there of all colors, of, you know, of everything, let’s teach them skills that they’re going to go out and, you know, make better people in society. Nothing against the outdoors but camping, yeah, it’s nice but it’s not going to get you a job.

MARTIN: Les, what do you think about this?

CARPENTER: You know, I’m thinking about my 7-year-old daughter. She’s never gotten into scouting. Thank God we haven’t had to cross that bridge yet. But honestly, I think she’d be more interested in what the Boy Scouts offer than what the Girl Scouts offer.

MARTIN: Because?

CARPENTER: Because I think she’s that kind of a person. She’s very adventurous. She wants to try things. She’s the kind of girl who would, you know, see a gondola, you know, 20 feet up in the air and say, hey, I’d like to jump in that and see where it goes. I mean, so I think that what the Boy Scouts offer will be far more interesting to her than what the Girl Scouts offer. And I know it’s a massive generalization, but I think this is something that she would think was a lot of fun.

MARTIN: I’ll have to arrange an escort to get you out of the building because there are a lot of Girl Scout parents and Scout leaders in there. I’ll see what I can do.

WILLINGHAM: Michel.

MARTIN: Go ahead, AJ.

WILLINGHAM: Michel, I want to go really quickly back to the negative reaction.

MARTIN: Sure.

WILLINGHAM: Obviously, a lot of people on social media, a lot of people in the general conversation sort of, you know, thinking that this is going to somehow rend the gender binary because we’re going to have boys in the Girl Scouts and, you know, boys and girls, and they could just be anywhere together now. I think what people forget is that girls have been in Boy Scouting programs now for a century. You know, they allow girls in the venturing program. And so it’s really not – yes – is it a big move? Yes, but it’s not unprecedented in their history to have girls participate in their activities. I think people forget that.

MARTIN: I confess, I was one that forgot that, so thank you for bringing that up. Before we let you go, gosh, I only have a minute left. So, Gustavo, I’m going to go to you on this. Eminem – I think by now, people have heard about his kind of scathing rap about President Trump at the BET Awards earlier this week. And I wanted to ask you your take on that.

ARELLANO: I love it. I know people are criticizing it because he gets the attention, not other rappers of color. I’ll say what I said on Code Switch a couple of months ago. Sometimes you need those people to go out and to places or to people that don’t want to listen to your message. Eminem has a huge suburban white audience. These people worship him as a god. And for him to be saying all those things about our current president, it comes as a shock to them, but they listen to him. They would not listen to the people. So good job, Eminem.

MARTIN: Because you agree with him, but what if you didn’t? Would you be offended?

ARELLANO: If I – if he supported Trump?

MARTIN: Yeah.

ARELLANO: Oh, well, then I wouldn’t like him.

(LAUGHTER)

ARELLANO: I mean, I like Eminem. You know, I’m for any of these entertainers who take stands, whether they’re good or not, because they are risking their fans. I mean, look at what’s happening with the NFL, I mean, with (unintelligible) and everything like that. They are taking their stand. And according to some people – I don’t got the stats – but, you know, they’re losing fans and all that, but at least they’re taking that position though.

MARTIN: Oh, I hear. All right. Well, that’s your – thanks for your take on that. That’s Gustavo Arellano. He’s an author and nationally syndicated columnist. Les Carpenter is a writer for The Guardian. AJ Willingham is a writer for CNN. Thank you all so much for joining us.

CARPENTER: Thank you.

ARELLANO: Gracias.

WILLINGHAM: Thank you, Michel.

(SOUNDBITE OF EMINEM’S “THE REAL SLIM SHADY”)

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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In 'Beside Bowie,' Sideman Mick Ronson Takes The Foreground

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In 'Beside Bowie,' Sideman Mick Ronson Takes The Foreground

Mick Ronson onstage in 1975. Filmmaker John Brewer hopes his documentary Beside Bowie will earn the late guitarist a place in the rock and roll canon.

Michael Putland/Getty Images

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Michael Putland/Getty Images

A new documentary film celebrates the life of the late guitarist Mick Ronson. Never heard of him? Starting in 1969, he was David Bowie‘s onstage and in-studio foil, arranger and co-producer. The film, called Beside Bowie, makes the case that Ronson deserves equal credit for Bowie’s rise to superstardom — but never got it before his death from liver cancer in 1993.

The very first voice you hear in the film belongs to David Bowie — it’s a voice-over he recorded for the documentary before his death last year. Bowie describes his first encounter with his future sidekick in the film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

“I started playing some of my songs on a 12-string, and he plugged in his Gibson,” he says. “And even though he was playing at a very low volume, the energy and grit cut through the room and he immediately established himself as a very well-defined player.”

There was a natural synergy between them, according to just about everyone who appears in the film. Ronson’s widow, Suzi, argues that the bond was even stronger: that her late husband and Bowie were two halves of a musical whole.

“There’s just not one without the other. There never was,” she says in the film. “Those five records, all those tours — that was Mick and David [in] combination, just like Keith and Mick or The Who.”

Ronson was born and raised in Hull, a port town in the North East of England. He made a name for himself as Hull’s answer to Jeff Beck, but kept his day job as a landscaper for the city government. A former bandmate convinced Bowie to hire Ronson. In the film, producer Tony Visconti remembers recording the future superstar’s third album, The Man Who Sold the World.

“What I didn’t realize was that Mick was a trained pianist and he studied violin when he was a kid,” Visconti says. “So he had these two other major instruments under his belt. And then he noticed that I had scored an arrangement for something on The Man Who Sold the World — so Mick was like, looking over my shoulder, and he said, ‘Can you teach me how you score?’ Because he could read and write music.”

Eventually, Ronson’s job became turning songs Bowie wrote on acoustic guitar or piano into veritable rock songs. The very first string arrangement he wrote was for Bowie’s epic “Life on Mars.”

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The critical accolades and album sales grew, but Ronson’s bank balance didn’t. While the Spiders from Mars were selling out arena shows, Ronson was earning less than 100 British pounds a week.

The director of the documentary, Jon Brewer, began working with Bowie and Ronson around that time. Brewer says he made Beside Bowie to try to set the record straight because Ronson was denied the respect he deserved.

“With respect to the money, he most certainly didn’t get what he was supposed to have done,” Brewer says. “And I just feel that that was something that went under the bridge, and people went, ‘Oh, we must sort that out,’ but nobody actually ever did. And that’s one of the struggles I think David was faced with.”

Ronson never got songwriting or arranging credit on any of the early Bowie albums. Suzi says she and Ronson lived paycheck to paycheck after Ronson’s solo career fizzled — even though he arranged John Mellencamp‘s No. 1 hit “Jack and Diane.”

“David should have gone to his grave thinking he should’ve righted a great wrong — he certainly should have,” Suzi says. “Mick was never credited and never paid. Never credited!”

And perhaps, Brewer says, his documentary will help restore Ronson to his rightful place in rock history.

“Mick Ronson was probably one of the greatest arrangers of all time,” Brewer says. “You know, he did his day’s work, and in that day’s work was making hit records.”

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A Look At Eminem's Anti-Trump Rap

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A Look At Eminem's Anti-Trump Rap

On Tuesday, rapper Eminem attacked President Trump in a four minute freestyle. NPR’s Kelly McEvers talks to NPR’s hip-hop writer Rodney Carmichael about the significance of Eminem’s anti-trump rap.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The rapper Eminem made some news this week when he showed up on the BET Hip Hop Awards Tuesday night for a performance aimed at a very specific target. For four and a half minutes, Eminem railed against President Trump from every angle – his policies, his looks, his tweets. Eminem called it “The Storm.”

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

EMINEM: (Rapping) From his endorsement of Bannon, support for the Klansmen, Tiki torches in hand for the soldier that’s black and comes home from Iraq and is still told to go back to Africa – fork and a dagger in this racist 94-year-old grandpa who keeps ignoring our past historical, deplorable factors.

MCEVERS: And Rodney Carmichael of NPR Music is with us to talk about this now. Hey there.

RODNEY CARMICHAEL, BYLINE: Hey, Kelly. How you doing?

MCEVERS: I’m good. So what did you think when you first heard this?

CARMICHAEL: I mean, I was blown away sitting at home on my couch, like a lot of people. But honestly, like, before we even get to the content, like, the first thing that struck me was the timing of it because, you know, all year we’ve been hearing these rumors that Eminem might be releasing an album. And honestly, he’s been so quiet and so irrelevant in terms of what’s happening in rap right now for so long that…

MCEVERS: Right.

CARMICHAEL: …Nobody really seemed to care that much. But you know, after this, he obviously has the whole world watching. So…

MCEVERS: So are you suggesting that this was maybe something to get us all talking about him again?

CARMICHAEL: I think you have to look at it that way in some degree. You know, I don’t – I wouldn’t say that that in any way diminishes the content or what his point and intent was in saying what he had to say. But you know, I think the timing is good. And if he wants to drop an album right now, I think it’ll be a good time for that.

MCEVERS: Right, right. I mean, this is what Eminem does though, right? Like, he’s taken shots at boy bands, at his ex-wife, even his mom. So I mean, is this really that surprising that he would do this?

CARMICHAEL: Let me tell you why it was surprising to me. It’s because you’re right. He’s always been provocative. But he has never been considered a politically conscious or woke rapper, as we like to say nowadays, right? Like, he’s been anything but that. If anything, he’s been on the other end of the spectrum in terms of his history of homophobic lyrics and all that kind of outrageous stuff. You know, I mean, he went after President George W. Bush at one point while he was president, but it was really minor compared to this. This is a new lane for Eminem.

MCEVERS: I mean, other rappers have gone after Donald Trump pretty specifically, and it has not – you know, it has not become this big of a deal.

CARMICHAEL: Right.

MCEVERS: So I mean, let’s just talk about the politics of this a little, right? Eminem is from Michigan, which Trump won. So do you think that’s something Eminem’s thinking about here?

CARMICHAEL: Well, yeah. He knows exactly what he’s doing here. I mean, he knows that there’s a lot of overlap between his fan base and Trump’s, which to me is why his call-out of his fans is really so significant.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

EMINEM: (Rapping) And any fan of mine who’s a supporter of his, I’m drawing in the sand a line. You’re either for or against. And if you can’t decide who you like more and you’re split on who you should stand beside, I’ll do it for you with this.

CARMICHAEL: On the flip side, if you look at it, you take a rapper like Macklemore – super popular, huge white fan base, never shied away from challenging his audience like he did last year with the controversial song “White Privilege II.”

MCEVERS: Yeah.

CARMICHAEL: But last month, he releases a brand new album and decides to stay totally silent on presidential politics and systemic racism and all of this stuff that Eminem is talking about in his rap, which to me just kind of underlines why this is a really big deal for somebody like him to speak out in this way.

MCEVERS: That’s NPR Music’s Rodney Carmichael. Thank you so much.

CARMICHAEL: Thank you, Kelly.

(SOUNDBITE OF EMINEM SONG, “LOSE YOURSELF”)

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Secret Of 'The OOZ': King Krule Explains His New Album's Strange Title

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Secret Of 'The OOZ': King Krule Explains His New Album's Strange Title

The OOZ, Archy Marshall’s second album as King Krule, is available now.

Frank Lebon/Courtesy of the artist

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Frank Lebon/Courtesy of the artist

Four years after an acclaimed debut, King Krule is back with his second proper album, The OOZ. The 23-year-old, UK-born Archy Marshall grew up in a family of musicians who played everything from ska to jazz to experimental jams in the house, and the eclecticism of his upbringing can be heard in tracks like “Bermondsey Bosom” — essentially spoken poetry in Spanish, with a beat. To mark the release of The OOZ, NPR producer Anjuli Sastry asked him to explain where that odd title comes from. Here’s what he had to say.

Everyone in my family is an artist or plays music. The first time I saw someone record was my mother and my uncle: They had a big double bass in my front room and they had set up a little eight-track, and they recorded these kind of dub, jazz, poetry, abstract tracks. I didn’t really understand it at the time — I was into, like, Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix, and they were doing this kind of beat poet thing. As I got older I grew to love it more and more. And also, my dad had always been writing songs. My uncle was always playing in ska bands, always playing guitar and making stuff and painting. My granddad and my uncle who lived in Long Beach in New York, they were doing cartoons for The New Yorker and stuff. There was so much stuff that I can honestly say, still, I find fascinating about the people that oozed me out and put my particles together.

“The ooz” is a word that me and my brother have always played around with, and that actually stems from back in the day with my band Zoo Kid; his band was called Words Backwards. We got together and merged our bands, so we formed “zoo kid” backwards, which was Dik Ooz. Which is pretty disgusting.

But “the ooz” ran a lineage throughout my life since then. We did an exhibition called Inner City Ooz, which is obviously a play on the Marvin Gaye song. And we’ve always wanted to create a comic called Ooz Comics, because we were heavily influenced by Raw comics, Art Spiegelman’s creation … that featured artists like Charles Burns, Joost Swarte, Robert Crumb. These drawings were always stuff that really influenced me and my brother. We always wanted to make something of “the ooz,” and The Ooz became the title of the album.

I originally titled it “Man Alive.” But I was sifting through my stuff one day and I found a record that my uncle had made, a burned CD, and he had titled this whole album Man Alive. I didn’t want to rip him off, so I had to change the name, and the first thing that came to my head was The OOZ. It’s kind of created its own meaning now, because the record’s kind of about the monotony of day to day, falling back into your head, being taken with your thoughts into a different place. “The ooz” for me represents … your sweat, your nails, the sleep that comes out of your eyes, your dead skin. All of those creations that you have to refine. That’s where it comes from: It’s kind of about refining the subconscious creations that you do constantly.

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The Ooz is out Oct. 13 on True Panther.

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Stream World Cafe's Friday The 13th Playlist

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Stream World Cafe's Friday The 13th Playlist

It’s Friday the 13th, watch out for black cats!

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The second Friday the 13th of 2017 is upon us, so we’ve assembled a playlist of songs for the superstitious and non-superstitious alike.

If you have even a tinge of concern, we would urge you to avoid black cats, walking under ladders, opening umbrellas in doors, and definitely do not accept any invitations to cookouts, late-night bonfires or sleep over trips to Camp Crystal Lake.

With music by Stevie Wonder, Howlin’ Wolf, Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes, and Johnny Cash, we hope you enjoy our Friday the 13th Spotify playlist.

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Watch Linkin Park's 'Carpool Karaoke' Episode, Dedicated To Chester Bennington

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Watch Linkin Park's 'Carpool Karaoke' Episode, Dedicated To Chester Bennington
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Filmed July 14, just a week before Chester Bennington died in July, Carpool Karaoke has released its Linkin Park episode with the blessing of Bennington’s family and the band, dedicated to the singer’s memory. Ken Jeong hosts this particular episode, and, given the fervor in which he sings along to “Numb,” “In The End” and “Talking To Myself,” the actor and comedian looks thoroughly stoked to share his screams with Bennington, Mike Shinoda and Joe Hahn.

OutKast’s “Hey Ya,” Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under The Bridge,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” and Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” are also in the set list. Jeong starts fake beef with Shinoda, Bennington teaches Jeong how to scream (or rather, “scring”), and they pull over to dance in front of some random person’s house. It’s silly and light, yet Bennington still finds time to talk about his children and their future: “I just want my kids to find something that they’re passionate about.”


Linkin Park will play its first show in memory of Chester Bennington at The Hollywood Bowl on Oct. 27. The band has established the One More Light Fund to honor Bennington.

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Latin Roots: La Vida Bohème

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Latin Roots: La Vida Bohème
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In this edition of Latin Roots we’ve got a session with La Vida Bohème. As our pal Rahsaan Lucas at AfroTaino Productions has said – think The Clash playing disco in Venezuela. La Vida Bohème makes anthemic rock and roll that exudes charisma. But at its center, you’ll find political activism and hope in the face of extreme danger.

  • “No Contaba Con Eso”
  • “Lejos”
  • “La Vida Mejor”

A few years ago La Vida Bohème was releasing its second album, the Latin Grammy-winning, Sera. The streets of Caracas where they lived were filled with social unrest, protests and violence. Lead singer Henry D’Arthenay has said if you speak with anyone from his country around his age they “all have had people kidnapped or killed or taken away from us.” That includes La Vida Bohème’s own tour manager, who was kidnapped, and their booking agent, who was killed. The members of La Vida Boheme decided to flee to Mexico City. That’s where they wrote a new album called La Lucha (“The Struggle”).

In the player above, you’ll hear live performances from our Latin Roots concert showcase, Nuevofest. But first, Marisa Arbona-Ruiz, contributor to Alt.Latino, talks with the band backstage before their set.

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'Springsteen On Broadway' Makes A Tidy Sum Its First Week

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'Springsteen On Broadway' Makes A Tidy Sum Its First Week

The Bruce Springsteen Marquee for Springsteen on Broadway, which sold out immediately and brought in impressive first-week receipts.

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The receipts from Bruce Springsteen‘s first week on Broadway are in. The Boss, over five sold-out performances, grossed $2.33 million — or about $466,000 per night. The sum beat out every production other than Hamilton (with $2.92 million in gross earnings) and Hello, Dolly! (with $2.34 million in gross earnings), according to The Broadway League.

Springsteen On Broadway, which sold out immediately, had its initial run at the Walter Kerr Theatre extended into February, for a total of 79 performances. (It was originally scheduled to end in November.) It “is probably the smallest venue I’ve played in the last 40 years,” Springsteen wrote in the initial announcement. “My show is just me, the guitar, the piano and the words and music.”

The show is an intimate, stripped-down tour through Springsteen’s work and history from a script he penned himself. Despite the bare-bones production — the show has no director — he enlisted two of Broadway’s best: the Tony Award-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz and sound designer Brian Ronan.

“It’s going to feel like a garage workshop basically, and I’m going to play my songs and tell my stories. So it wasn’t something that called for a whole lot more than that,” Springsteen told The New York Times.

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