JACKI LYDEN, host:

Getting harder and harder to stay cool, isn't it? I'm not talking about the weather. I'm talking about cool. Trends come and go too fast to keep up. And the music? I know that good stuff is out there but finding it can be a real pain.

Well, NPR's got a one-stop shop for the best new music out there. It's called Song of the Day. It's on our Web site.

Stephen Thompson curates that collection, and we get to have him right here with me in the studio.

Hi there, Stephen.

STEPHEN THOMPSON: Hi there, Jacki.

LYDEN: Your most recent addition is by this band called Metric that we're listening to right now. And I was laughing over one of your characterizations, because you called them, like candy-coated insects. And I wonder what the heck are you talking about.

THOMPSON: No, it should be noted that I referred to the songs as candy-coated insects. I did not mean to besmirch the good name of the members of Metric.

When I say candy-coated insects, I just sort of mean covering something bitter with something sweet. They're these wonderful sort of shimmery, buzzy, big pop songs. But if you listen more closely, if you listen to the lyrics, a wonderful singer named Emily Haines, she tends to write very bitter lyrics, but always seems to have interesting ways of dressing them up in ways that make them seem a little bit happier than they are.

This is called �Sick Muse.�

(Sound bite of song, �Sick Muse�)

Ms. EMILY HAINES (Vocalist, Metric): (Singing) Everybody, everybody just want to fall in love. Everybody, everybody just wanna play the lead. Everybody, everybody just want to fall in love. Everybody, everybody just wan to play the lead. Play the lead. Play the lead.

LYDEN: Somewhere in the song, I think you talk about an arrow piercing her heart.

(Soundbite of laughter)

THOMPSON: Well, like the first line of the song is: Watch out, Cupid stuck me with a sickness.

(Soundbite of laughter)

THOMPSON: And, you know, it's nice to get your thoughts out there right up front.

LYDEN: And I've had that sickness myself.

Now, earlier in the week, Song of the Day featured some new music by some old friends. And I'm sure a lot of people remember Booker T. Jones because he's the guy who made this one.

(Soundbite of song, �Green Onions�)

That, of course, is �Green Onions,� a classic. Now, Booker T. was the man behind the organ in that song. What's he up to now?

THOMPSON: Well, he just put out a solo record in April called �Potato Hole,� and it's kind of a mixture of different songs, kind of different eras. And the one that we picked, it's an instrumental version of a huge, huge hit from 2003 by a band called OutKast, and the song is called �Hey Ya.�

LYDEN: As well, as I think I sing this�

(Soundbite of laughter)

�can we please hear the original OutKast version of �Hey Ya�?

(Soundbite of song, �Hey Ya�)

ANDRE 3000: (Singer, Outkast) One. Two. Three, uh. My baby don't mess around because she loves me so and this I know for shooo...

THOMPSON: Oh, I'll...

LYDEN: (Singing) Do do do do dee do. Do do do do dee do.

THOMPSON: I'm so glad you sang it so I didn't have to.

LYDEN: (Singing) My baby, do do do dee.

(Soundbite of laughter)

THOMPSON: And so Booker T. working with an amazing (unintelligible) band, he works with a band called Drive-by Truckers. And here it is.

(Soundbite of song, �Hey Ya�)

THOMPSON: I love the way he uses an organ to kind of convey the same playfulness that the original song has.

LYDEN: Yeah. And this is his first record in about 20 years.

THOMPSON: Yeah, and it's a nice comeback. It's a fun record.

LYDEN: Well, finally, speaking of comebacks, here's a voice we might remember from Woodstock. And I think this guy actually lives in Woodstock. First of all, let's hear the classic version.

(Soundbite of song, �Up on Cripple Creek�)

Mr. LEVON HELM (Singer): (Singing) When I get off of this mountain, you know where I want to go, straight down to Mississippi River, to the Gulf of Mexico...

LYDEN: That's Levon Helm singing with The Band. But maybe not everybody is aware he's been through quite an ordeal since then.

THOMPSON: I think very few people expected Levon Helm to be able to continue making records. He went through a bout with throat cancer in the �90s. And a few years ago, he sort of had a triumphant comeback with an album called �Dirt Farmer.� And his followup to that is coming out at the end of this month, it's called �Electric Dirt.�

And it's lovely just hearing his voice and hearing him kind of just kind rip into this Muddy Waters covering and sings a song here called �Stuff You Gotta Watch.�

(Soundbite of song, �Stuff You Gotta Watch�)

Mr. HELM:(Singing) You know the girl you love, she don't treat you right sometimes. I said the girl you love, she don't treat you right sometimes. Well, that's the stuff you got to watch because your girl is telling you lies.

LYDEN: This girl's telling no lies. That guy sounds great.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Doesn't he?

THOMPSON: He does. He sounds amazing. I'm mean, if anything, it's almost sometimes your voice can age in such a way that just sounds better and better. You can hear the kind of crags and nicks, and just wear and tear on his voice, but it loses none of its power, of course.

(Soundbite of song, �Stuff You Gotta Watch�)

Mr. HELM: (Singing) Well, that's the stuff you got to watch because your girl is taking you wrong.

LYDEN: Well, thank you for giving us music to live by day by day.

THOMPSON: Oh, thank you.

LYDEN: Stephen Thompson, he curates the Song of the Day feature on the music section of npr.org, that's where you can hear the full songs that Stephen just reviewed. And again, that was new music from Metric, Booker T. Jones and Levon Helm.

(Soundbite of song, �Stuff You Gotta Watch�)

Mr. HELM:(Singing) Well, that's the stuff you got to watch if you don't want to lose your girl.

LYDEN: And for this evening, that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

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