When we asked listeners to tell us about a song they turned to this week — one that spoke in some way to weighty events unfolding around the world and how they felt — we weren't sure what we'd get. Would it be mostly songs of solace? Songs of grief, or anger? While there's plenty to reflect on, the number one thing on people's minds seems to be Baltimore. And the song people mentioned most was Randy Newman's appropriately titled song, "Baltimore," or more specifically, jazz singer Nina Simone's oddly beguiling version, recorded in 1978. For this week's Plus One Podcast we take a look at the song and why it resonates so powerfully nearly 40 years after Randy Newman first wrote it.
Why do we like falsetto so much? Why is melody the single most important part of a song? And why does country music move (or repel) us? These are just a few of the questions that popped up during our All Songs Considered listening party in Boston with the Berklee College of Music last week at the Red Room of Club 939.
Hear Brand New My Morning Jacket, Sharon Van Etten, Conor Oberst and more
On today's All Songs Considered, we're hitting you with several premieres, beginning a heavy cut from My Morning Jacket's latest studio album, The Waterfall. On "Believe (Nobody Knows)," front man Jim James seeks meaning and truth in an uncertain world, while hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton consider a life of possibilities.
Your Song Of The Week: Kendrick Lamar's 'King Kunta'
Bob Boilen and I thought we'd try something new this week: a second All Songs Considered, a mini-podcast. We start with a ten-minute conversation about a song our listeners say they couldn't stop playing this week: Kendrick Lamar's "King Kunta," a track that is both insanely catchy and profound. To help us unspool the song's multiple layers of meaning, it's many cultural and historical references and its funk-inspired grooves, we asked NPR Music's Timmhotep Aku, a writer and producer who covers hip-hop and R&B, to join us. You can hear and download our conversation with the listen link above. You can hear Kendrick Lamar's song below:
Passion Pit, Franz Ferdinand with Sparks, MNDR with Killer Mike, The Sonics and White Reaper
On this week's All Songs Considered we talk about the secrets to being happy and how they relate to a euphoric new track from the electro-pop group Passion Pit. We'll hear the first song from Franz Ferdinand's collaboration with one of Bob Boilen's favorite bands from the early '70s — the wild, strange and playful duo Sparks. Together, as FFS, they cordially invite everyone to "piss off!"
SXSW 2015 Wrap-Up: Our Favorite Discoveries And Memorable Moments
After a week of 16-hour days and little-to-no sleep, the All Songs Considered gang is back from Austin with a slew of musical discoveries from the 2015 South by Southwest music festival. On this week's show, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton are joined by NPR Music's Stephen Thompson to share their favorite finds and memorable moments, from the brutal and strange rock of Dublin's Girl Band and the bizarre J-pop group Mahousyoujo-ni-naritai, to the quirky-comical pop group The Prettiots and the interstellar vibrations of Golden Dawn Arkestra.