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Lyndsey McKenna

In mid-March, just after the country shut down, Bartees Strange, aka Bartees Cox Jr., released Say Goodbye to Pretty Boy, an EP of re-imagined songs originally by The National. For him, it was a project of both appreciation and interrogation; it was inspired in part by seeing the band in D.C. in 2019 and noticing how few other Black faces he saw in the crowd.

When your breakthrough record is a post-sobriety look back, where do you go next? There's certainly no shortage of recorded music that covers the "before." Sometimes there's a clear line-in-the-sand in an artist's catalog; other times, there's no obvious intervention, no discernible divide. Nashville singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly's answer, Shape & Destroy, is more refinement than reinvention; a statement of purpose, it offers a path forward in which the process of recovery continues with resolve.

No, Taylor Swift did not spend her quarantine nurturing her sourdough starter or tie-dying old sweaters. Nor did she use the period to re-record her catalog as promised last year after a label dispute.

Do you remember the way you reacted when you first witnessed Kendall Roy's rap tribute to his father, Logan Roy, on the second season of HBO's Succession? Were you like younger brother Roman, in denial of what you were seeing, or more of a Shiv, laughing along? Or a Cousin Greg, tentatively taking it all in?

Like many who have graced the Tiny Desk before him, the awkwardness of performing in a working office wasn't lost on Harry Styles. "It just feels like you're in the way," he joked. But when you watch his set from behind Bob Boilen's desk, you'd never suspect any discomfort.

Taylor Swift, Man

Feb 27, 2020

YouTube

The Taylor Swift vs.

Forget Valentine's Day. Today, Feb. 13, is Galentine's Day, a recurring holiday on the NBC comedy Parks & Recreation that has become a minor cultural festivity (and an excuse to convene the women in your life for breakfast food).

From the moment Carly Rae Jepsen arrived at NPR HQ for her Tiny Desk concert, she brought an obvious sense of joy. Take, for example, her sound check: Working with her band of longtime collaborators, she seemed downright delighted, beaming at the musicians as she gave notes after each meticulous run-through.

As Taylor Swift settled in for her Tiny Desk, she looked out at the 300-plus NPR employees and guests. "Wow! This is a lot of people in a tiny office!" she said. "I love it!" Then, after introducing herself, she explained her objective: "I just decided to take this as an opportunity to show you guys how the songs sounded when I first wrote them."

Note: This episode originally ran in July, 2018.


It all started with a tweet. (Doesn't it always?)

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