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Maybe you have opera jokes. We did.

When the Pop Culture Happy Hour team planned a trip to the Metropolitan Opera in New York, we grudgingly served up to each other our dusty old gags about Bugs Bunny and helmets with horns and Pretty Woman and ... have we left anything out?

We chose to see Rigoletto, precisely because it's a classic. It's real, hardcore actual opera. We didn't want to be reluctant, or to insist that opera come meet us where we were. We wanted to dive in. All jokes aside, we really did want the opera experience.

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An industrial beat clangs as a low drone hums.

One of the most celebrated voices in modern South African music has died. Singer, dancer and activist Johnny Clegg, who co-founded two groundbreaking, racially mixed bands during the apartheid era, died Tuesday in Johannesburg at age 66. He had battled pancreatic cancer since 2015.

His death was announced by his manager and family spokesperson, Roddy Quin.

Clegg wrote his 1987 song "Asimbonanga" for Nelson Mandela. It became an anthem for South Africa's freedom fighters.

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Dev Hynes, also known as Blood Orange, has released a new music video for his song "Benzo." The video itself is a reima

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Joan Shelley will release a new album later this year called Like the River Loves the Sea, a collecti

I'm all alone in the studio.

I had so many new songs to share; I didn't want to split the show with a co-host.

Wilco has announced it'll release the band's 11th studio album later this year. Drawing its title from the poetry of Friedrich Schiller — and Beethoven's Ninth symphony — Wilco's Ode to Joy will feature what frontman Jeff Tweedy calls "really big, big folk songs," including the album's first single, "Love is Everywhere (Beware)."

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When you have a voice like Brittany Howard, just about anybody looks good singing along.

The first time I heard Rodrigo y Gabriela, the pair was covering Metallica's "Orion." It's a beautiful composition, but what I couldn't wrap my head around was that this dense, majestic instrumental was being played by only two acoustic guitars.

The Music Of Our Spheres

Jul 11, 2019

What does Space sound like? As an astronomer, I could tell you about interplanetary gas, magnetic fields and the physics of waves propagating through them both. But that's really not the answer that matters as we cross the 50-year threshold of an epoch-making walk on the Moon. This month marks an anniversary that asks us to reflect on the profound impact the Apollo mission left on human culture.

Last month, Bon Iver released a pair of new songs — "Hey Ma" and "U (Man Like)" — with little context to surround them.

From a casual distance, the music of João Gilberto sounds like it might belong to that ancient realm known as "easy listening."

I'll never forget the thrill of watching Tank and the Bangas' submission to NPR Music's 2017 Tiny Desk Contest for the first time.

For the past year, NPR has been taking a deep look at American anthems and all the forms they can take. These are the songs that unite us, inspire us or say something about what it means to be an American — songs as traditional as Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land," or as defiant as Public Enemy's "Fight the Power."

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Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard will release her first-ever solo album later this summer.

Lucy Dacus / YouTube

Lucy Dacus is conflicted about America.

Radiohead's Thom Yorke released his third official solo album, ANIMA, early Thursday morning, along with a short companion film featuring three tracks from the album.

The first thing people usually say about Greensky Bluegrass is that the band's live shows are just wild. The members mix the energy of stadium rock with the spirit of jam bands, and they play bluegrass instruments, like banjo, mandolin and dobro through a surprisingly psychedelic set of effects pedals.

In 1981, after reading the paraplegic veteran Ron Kovic's memoir Born on the Fourth of July, Bruce Springsteen staged a concert to benefit the advocacy group Vietnam Veterans of America. For the encore, he played a song he hadn't performed before and hasn't since.

The music legend, guitarist, piano man, jive talker and psychedelic godfather Malcolm John Rebennack – better known as Dr. John – died "towards the break of day" on Thursday, of a heart attack, a statement has confirmed. He was 77.

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For as long as Esperanza Spalding has been in the public eye, she's been defined in part by her hair.

Just over a minute into her new collection of singles, Being Again, Norah Jones declares "I will rise." Her vocal power is arresting and floats over heartbeat percussion and ambient piano.

Bon Iver is back with its first new recorded music in three years. The band this morning dropped two new songs with lyric videos. The first, "Hey, Ma," is a glittering remembrance of childhood and a mother's love. "Tall time to call your ma," sings Justin Vernon over faded home videos of his family. "I was tokin' on dope / I hoped it all won't go in a minute / With the past that you know."

When Sinkane wrote the song "Ya Sudan" the Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir was still in power. He had ruled Sudan since a coup in 1989. That coup was a key moment in the life of Sinkane's lead singer and songwriter, Ahmed Gallab.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple playlists at the bottom of the page.


Though it lasted only a few months in 1975 and 1976 and played mostly in tertiary-market venues, Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue occupies a mythic place in the history of rock tours.

Roky Erickson, the psychedelic lodestar who helmed The 13th Floor Elevators and wrote one of garage rock's original anthems, "You're Gonna Miss Me," died on Friday at the age of 71.

His death was announced by his brother, Mikel Erickson, on Facebook. No cause of death was provided.

Leon Redbone, the perpetually anachronistic, famously mysterious artist who rose to prominence as a performer on Toronto's folk circuit in the early '70s, died Thursday while in hospice care in Bucks County, Pa.

Redbone's family confirmed his death through a publicist. No cause was given, and Redbone's age was a subject of speculation for decades.

If you're even a casually observant jazz fan, you might think you know a thing or two about Joe Lovano. A tenor saxophonist with dozens of albums to his name, most of them made during a roughly 25-year tenure on Blue Note Records, Lovano is one of the most instantly identifiable musicians on the jazz landscape and on the New York scene. But he didn't come from nowhere.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Bandcamp playlist at the bottom of the page.

This year, I was blown away by the Tiny Desk Contest entries I saw. We received over 6,000 entries from all across the country. We saw tiny desks up on rooftops and down on a subway platform; tucked into treetops, pickup trucks and laundromats. We heard songs about the situations that make life difficult and the people that make life worth living.

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