Fall Music Preview: From Jay-Z To Miranda Lambert NPR's Guy Raz gets the lowdown on who'll be topping the Music charts from Maura Johnston, editor of the website Idolator.com.
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Fall Music Preview: From Jay-Z To Miranda Lambert

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Fall Music Preview: From Jay-Z To Miranda Lambert

Fall Music Preview: From Jay-Z To Miranda Lambert

Fall Music Preview: From Jay-Z To Miranda Lambert

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NPR's Guy Raz gets the lowdown on who'll be topping the Music charts from Maura Johnston, editor of the website Idolator.com.

(Soundbite of song "Run this Town")

Ms. RIHANNA (Singer): (Singing) Feel it coming in the air, hear the screams from everywhere. I'm addicted to...

GUY RAZ, host:

This is a track off one of the most anticipated albums coming out this fall.

(Soundbite of song "Run this Town")

Ms. RIHANNA: (Singing) Can't be scaring nickels down. Got a problem, tell me now. Only thing that's on my mind is who's going to run this town tonight

RAZ: The track is called "Run this Town," the record, "Blueprint 3" by rap megastar Jay-Z. It features Kanye West and, in this song, Rihanna. It's one of Maura Johnston's picks for new pop music to look out for this autumn. She's the editor of Idolator.com, and Maura's in our New York bureau. Welcome back.

Ms. MAURA JOHNSTON (Idolator.com): Hi.

RAZ: Maura, give us a quick back story to the song we're hearing here. It's off Jay-Z's album "Blueprint 3."

Ms. JOHNSTON: Well, the "Blueprint 3" is coming out on September 11, which is actually the eighth anniversary of the release of the original "Blueprint" album, which came out on September 11, 2001.

RAZ: On 9/11, right.

Ms. JOHNSTON: Yeah. And basically, you know, it's Jay-Z. I mean, Jay-Z is one of the biggest megastars in pop music right now. You know, he has clothing lines. He can endorse a computer just by having his hands waving around a screen, as he did with an ad for HP a couple of weeks ago.

RAZ: You don't even have to show his face.

Ms. JOHNSTON: You don't even have to show his face, no.

RAZ: Just Jay-Z's hands is enough.

Ms. JOHNSTON: Yeah, Jay-Z's hands.

RAZ: How much are his hands worth?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. JOHNSTON: Probably more than I could even imagine.

(Soundbite of laughter)

And this is a really big record. It has a ton of guest stars, like you said, Kanye West and Rihanna, who are both on the song "Run this Town." Alicia Keys is on it. The band MGMT produced a track.

RAZ: Wow.

Ms. JOHNSTON: I mean, it's just so many people. It's a big event.

(Soundbite of song "Run this Town")

Ms. RIHANNA: (Singing) Run this town tonight.

Mr. KANYE WEST (Rapper): (Rapping) We are, yeah, I said it, we are. You can call me Caesar, in a dark Caesar. Please follow the leader, so Eric B we are. Microphone fiend, it's the return of the god, peace god.

RAZ: And I was reading how secretive they were about the making of this album. They, like, went to Hawaii to record it.

Ms. JOHNSTON: Yeah, because they wanted to prevent, you know, as many leaks as possible from the sessions, although what wound up happening was it wound up leaking earlier this week.

RAZ: Right, otherwise we wouldn't be able to be playing it right now.

Ms. JOHNSTON: Right, right.

RAZ: Because we got a leaked version.

(Soundbite of laughter)


RAZ: Okay, Maura, what's your next pick?

Ms. JOHNSTON: My next pick is an album by Miranda Lambert, who is a country singer who actually came to fame on the show "Nashville Star." She did not win, but she's had a really good string of records come out over the past couple years, and her new albums is called "Revolution," and it's her third record.

(Soundbite of song "Dead Flowers")

Ms. MIRANDA LAMBERT (Singer): (Singing) I feel like the flowers in this vase. He just brought them home one day, ain't they beautiful he said. They've been here in the kitchen and the water's turning gray. They're sitting in the vase but now they're dead. Dead flowers.

RAZ: The song is called "Dead Flowers" by Miranda Lambert. Maura, she's a pretty young country singer. Tell me about her.

Ms. JOHNSTON: She's kind of a bad girl, you know? Her first album was called "Kerosene." Her last album was called "Crazy Ex-girlfriend." She definitely sings about carrying a gun if her boyfriend beats her up. And she said this is a much more artistic record than her two previous albums. So I think it'll be a really interesting switch for her from this young, firebrand persona to someone who's more reflective.

This song is actually one of my favorites. It's a really evocative look at a relationship that's dying, and I think it's really beautiful.

(Soundbite of song "Dead Flowers")

Ms. LAMBERT: (Singing) He ain't feeling anything. My love, my hurt, or the sting of this rain. I'm living in a hurricane.

(Soundbite of song "How I Got Over")

RAZ: Maura, this next song is my favorite of the lot that you picked. Can you guess which one it is?

Ms. JOHNSTON: I think it's the Roots.

RAZ: You got it.

(Soundbite of song "How I Got Over")

THE ROOTS: (Singing) When you on the corners too much drama/ Living with the police right behind you. It's always more than a slight reminder. We living in a war zone like Rwanda. Before I go back to the heavenly father. Pray for me if it ain't too much bother. Whatever don't break me or make me stronger. I feel like I can't take too much longer. It's too much lying and too much frying. I'm all cried out 'cause I grew up crying. They all got a sales pitch I ain't buying. They're trying to convince me that I ain't trying. We uninspired. We unadmired. And tired and sick of being sick and tired. A living in the hood where the shots are fired. We dying to live, so to live we dying. You just like I am.

RAZ: Maura, their last album, "Rising Down," which came out in 2008, around now last year, I think, that was one of my favorite records last year. I think a lot of people will recognize this band from the Jimmy Fallon show. What should we expect with this record?

Ms. JOHNSTON: Well, you know, an interview with Questlove, the drummer and the de facto leader of the band, he's sort of the most visible, he's really popular on Twitter these days. You know, he has the big afro, and he sits behind the kit.

But he said that when he's been playing the record for people, they've been throwing around the word gospel a lot. And he says that this record's very organ-heavy, so - and you can hear that on that one - on the title track, which is "How I Got Over." You know, you can definitely hear that the organ is playing a big role in the music.

RAZ: I can't wait for this one to come out.

Ms. JOHNSTON: Yeah, it's really going to be good.

RAZ: You picked a track called "My Love is Better," and it's by a Norwegian pop singer called Annie. And Maura, this one sounds like it was recorded in 1984. Are you sure this is new?

Ms. JOHNSTON: I'm positive it's new, yeah.

RAZ: Okay, let's hear it.

(Soundbite of song "My Love is Better")

Ms. ANNIE (Singer): (Singing) Coming with the light, here we go again. First you say you're right. Then you take my pen. Because underneath your smile, you don't wanna lose. Babe, I've got the style. You've just got the shoes.

RAZ: I read on a Web site that they called this album a complete modern masterpiece. Seriously?

Ms. JOHNSTON: I think it's really great, actually. I think it's really, just like, really fun dance pop. You know, Annie is a sort of well-known singer among the criterati - can I say that?

(Soundbite of laughter)

RAZ: Yeah, why not?

Ms. JOHNSTON: This record's actually been kicking around for a while. It came out in Norway last year, and it's sort of been this apocryphal record, and I'm really into it. I think that it's really bouncy and fun, and I'm glad that it's finally seeing the light of day.

RAZ: What are you going to leave us with this afternoon, Maura?

Ms. JOHNSTON: I'm going to leave you with Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions. She's the former lead singer of Mazzy Star, and this is her first record in a long time, and it's - people are very excited about it, and I think it's easy to hear why once you just hit play.

(Soundbite of song "Trouble")

Ms. HOPE SANDOVAL (Singer): (Singing) The trouble with the trouble is the trouble in me.

RAZ: The song is "Trouble" by Hope Sandoval. It's one of Maura Johnston's fall picks. She's the editor of the website Idolator.com. You can find more of her recommendations at Idolator.com.

Maura, as always, thank you so much.

Ms. JOHNSTON: Thank you.

(Soundbite of song "Trouble")

Ms. SANDOVAL: (Singing) ...I don't know what you think...

RAZ: We here at NPR will keep you up to date with all of the latest music this fall, from rock to pop to classical and jazz. It's all on NPR Music: arena shows, studio sessions, and even something we call tiny desk concerts, plus plenty of news and reviews. It's all at npr.org/music.

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