We've watched thousands of 2021 Tiny Desk Contest entries. Now, it's time to highlight our favorites as we get closer to picking a winner: Welcome to Tiny Desk Contest Top Shelf!
Every Thursday through Aug. 26, one of our Tiny Desk Contest judges will join me to play the videos that knocked us out. You're going to see talent you've never seen. And we'll invite some of our favorites on the show to talk about their entries.
For this episode of Top Shelf this year, I invited Contest judge John Morrison — DJ, journalist, frequent All Songs Considered guest and host of Culture Cypher Radio at WXPN — to share his favorites. His Top Shelf selections include an energizing track that radiates optimism, a song so touching and tender that John says he has to remind himself to breathe every time he hears it, a gorgeous entry that captures the beauty of the woods, a powerhouse rap that tells a heavy story and a jazz- and pop-influenced song about pretending everything's fine. San Diego-based artist Jesus Gonzalez also joined us to share more about his experience lugging his equipment — desk and all — into the woods where he grew up to record his entry, "I Dreamt Of You Again."
New episodes of Tiny Desk Contest Top Shelf are streamed live every Thursday at 3 p.m. ET on NPR Music's YouTube page. You can learn more about the series — and sign up to be reminded about future episodes — at topshelf2021.nprpresents.org.
1. The Main Squeeze, "Go To Work"
2. Ephraim Bugumba, "Year One"
3. Jesus Gonzalez, "I Dreamt Of You Again"
4. Zhalarina, "Lala"
5. Dery, "Fine"