NPR logo 10 Tiny Desk Contest Entries We Also Loved

Just In

10 Tiny Desk Contest Entries We Also Loved

DeQn Sue was one of the many, many Tiny Desk contestants who won our team over. i

DeQn Sue was one of the many, many Tiny Desk contestants who won our team over. YouTube hide caption

toggle caption YouTube
DeQn Sue was one of the many, many Tiny Desk contestants who won our team over.

DeQn Sue was one of the many, many Tiny Desk contestants who won our team over.

YouTube

More than ever, we are a creative culture. A simple shout out to participate in our Tiny Desk Concert Contest deluged us with almost 7,000 video entries. And the quality of those entries — not simply the technical quality but the quality of idea and imagination — was boundless. We asked you to film one video behind a desk of your choosing. You put those desks on mountain tops, in oceans, in classrooms, in elevators ... the list is long. We may have had one "winner" for our first Tiny Desk Concert Contest — Oakland blues-rock musician Fantastic Negrito — but in truth we had many. The reward of doing this can be seen on the faces of musicians and in the music being made.

Here, then, are just a few highlights of the many entries that grabbed our team's attention, presented by NPR Music's Rachel Horn. She helped curate our Tiny Desk Tumblr, where we shared some favorite videos throughout the contest. Check them out for yourself. There's an incredible wealth of talent out there waiting to be discovered.

—Bob Boilen

10 Tiny Desk Contest Entries We Also Loved

  • The Most Colorful Song: DeQn Sue

    "I am a color," DeQn Sue sings while perched on a desk in an Alabama studio, and from then on she charmingly invites us along on a syncopated, seemingly Golden Girls-inspired romp through the palette of her emotions. "Magenta" is bouncy, quirky and fun — the perfect tune to distract you from your thoughts if you, too, are not quite sure whether you're green or blue.

    Musicians: DeQn Sue and Kelvin Wooten

    YouTube
  • The Biggest Dance Party: West Philadelphia Orchestra

    Though not quite the size of the biggest band ever to grace the Tiny Desk (the 23-strong marching band Mucca Pazza), the 14-member West Philadelphia Orchestra filled up every corner of the antique emporium where they filmed their video with their huge, effusive sound. "Zla S'dba" is a joyful Balkan dance number that gets everyone in the room swaying. Bulgarian language skills not required; the song's irresistibly celebratory spirit needs no translation.

    Musicians: Petia Zamfirova, Francois Zayas, Koofreh Umoren, Adam Hershberger, Patrick Hughes, Larry Toft, Steve Duffy, Larry Goldfinger, Jimmy Parker, David Fishkin, Hayley Varhol, Chad Brown, Dan Nosheny and Elliott Levin

    YouTube
  • The Most \m/ >_< \m/ : Cold Blue Mountain

    It'd be hard to count the number of times members of the NPR Music team showed this California metal band's video to one another (and to everyone else in the building). But with each replay of "White North," our delight was just as real as the first time we unsuspectingly watched the office janitor (Brandon Squyres) suddenly transform into a screaming, head-banging lead singer who wields his mop like a microphone.

    Musicians: Sesar Sanchez, Daniel Taylor, Will McGahan, Adrian Hammons, Brandon Squyres and Trevor Sellers

    YouTube
  • The One That Touched Valerie's Heart: Reina Del Cid

    Esteemed judge and Tiny Desk alumna Valerie June counted this lush, emotional performance among her favorites. "It was creative and told a great story, and the arrangement was awesome. I was looking for something that emotionally moved me, with every single video that I watched. I want something that makes me feel something, and I felt something when I listened to 'The Cooling' – I felt moved."

    Musicians: Reina del Cid, Toni Lindgren, Zach Schmidt, Kate Jarvis, Laura De St Croix, Charles Asch and Blake Bonde

    YouTube
  • The Most Valiant Effort To Perform In Subzero Temperatures: Spirits of the Red City

    The members of this folk-rock collective tell us that the temperature at Amelia Lake in Minnesota on the day they filmed their entry was 33 degrees below zero. Nevertheless, they bundled up, dragged their desk onto the frozen surface of the lake and heroically attempted to battle the icy wind with song. It looks far cozier in the cabin to which they ultimately retreat, and their intimate, wistful performance of "Halfway Poem" warms like a cup of hot chocolate and a flannel blanket.

    Musicians: Will Garrison, Jason Overby, Rachel Overby, Alyssa Overby, Danah Olivetree, Blake Stepan and Stelth Ulvang

    YouTube
  • The One That Made Us Embrace Our Desk Jobs: Wesley Jensen & The Penny Arcade

    On the face of it, "Control" seems to be a song about resignation, about accepting that your dreams might not come true. This might be a gloomy realization, but Redding, Calif.'s Wesley Jensen and company turn it into an oddly uplifting affirmation, helped along by bright organ swells and delightfully creative percussion. ("Stop Shaking Paper Clips!" reads a Post-It reminder affixed to Penny Arcade member Seth Carlson's desk.)

    Musicians: Wesley Jensen, Ryan Gillespie, Matt Deacon and Seth Carlson

    YouTube
  • The One That Gave Robin Goosebumps: MARAJ

    On "Gettaway," the eclectic Kalamazoo, Mich. hip-hop collective fuses styles and spits lyrics in a way that awed judge and All Songs Considered co-host Robin Hilton: "The moment it ended I cued it back up to the beginning and watched it all over again. Great flow, incredible charisma. Just a very magnetic, captivating performance. I was also moved by the simple message of hope for better times. It was the first video I gave a perfect score."

    Musicians: Andy Catlin, Kameron Potts, Ben Lau, Darius Greer, Sam Cooper, Julia Toro and Joel Pixley-Fink

    YouTube
  • The Best Use Of A Mayor's Desk: Enormodome

    Surprisingly, even this was a contested category, with strong contenders in RIVERS (Newville, Penn.), Vannessa Lundon (Tucson, Ariz.) and Jabee Williams (Oklahoma City, Okla.). Still, none could match Enormodome for either volume or the comedic effect of absurd juxtaposition. The hard rock duo turns up to 11 on "I'm Gonna Love You," while Flagstaff, Ariz. mayor Jerry Nabours and his staff nonchalantly go about their day.

    Musicians: Jeff Lusby and Mikey Seitz

    YouTube
  • The One That Caught Alt.Latino's Ear: Diana Gameros

    Latin artists made a strong showing in the contest — so much so that Alt.Latino hosts Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd decided to center last week's show around them. We loved entries from Como Las Movies and Melaena Cadiz, but Diana Gameros (and her cat, Lulu!) especially transfixed us with the sparsely beautiful "Ligerita." Jasmine was drawn to one lyric in particular: "I love the line ligerita quiero ser -- 'I want to be light,' like a feather — because her voice is so light and soft."

    YouTube
  • The Most Epic Reveal: Manatee Commune

    A number of entries, including one from Kentucky's Buffalo Rodeo, rewarded viewers with unexpected twists. But Manatee Commune's video for "Wake," a restless, swelling electronic track with drums that pound like a heartbeat, takes home this prize. At first, it's just the song itself that grabs your attention, but eventually, you can't ignore the extras moving bits of the backdrop out of frame any longer. You'll want to see this one for yourself — we won't spoil the surprise.

    YouTube

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.