The Mix: 123 Musical Trailblazers

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Innovation Trail
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The crew at the Innovation Trail spends all day trying to decide what's innovative and what's not. How cool is it to create solar panels that roll up like a sheet of film? Is that more innovative than a vaccine that treats prostate cancer using the patient's own genes?

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Innovation Trail

All that innovation consideration gets pretty tiring. So when NPR Music offered the Innovation Trail the chance to take time out and talk about innovative musicians instead, we jumped at the chance. We pulled out our laptops, trawled through our MP3s, started jamming and got to arguing.

We thought about a lot of factors as we pulled together our "Trailblazers" stream. We set out to bring you a mix of artists who've pioneered something and broken through with it. We considered everything from the use of Auto-Tune to unusual time signatures to microgenres like glitch-hop and psychobilly, to ideas as basic as the blues. But we also wanted our mix to be listenable — not so far-ranging that it makes listeners want to tune out.

What we wound up with is a playlist that leans heavily toward the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of this one, with an emphasis on the major currents in popular music: hip-hop, rock, pop, folk, world beat and jazz. These artists inspire us to keep looking, keep digging and keep listening as we cover the innovation economy in upstate New York.

Think we missed someone, or overstated the importance of someone else? Let us know.

The Tracklist

The Innovation Trail is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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