Ann Powers

Ann Powers appears in the following:

First Watch: Maddie & Tae, 'Girl In A Country Song'

Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's starting to seem like even the bros are tired of bro country. The truck-loving Florida Georgia Line has switched up its game with the chart- dominant "Dirt," a sensitive ballad about marriage and farming. The fastest-rising summer songs are "Bartender," Lady Antebellum's ode to girls' ...


First Listen: Jenny Lewis, 'The Voyager'

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Nostalgia has no place for the woman traveling alone," the great travel writer Mary Morris once wrote. "Our motion is forward, whether by train or daydream." She's describing a necessary ruthlessness: Women are so often defined by their attachments (family, romance, even the fetishes of style) that becoming light enough ...


First Listen: Morrissey, 'World Peace Is None Of Your Business'

Sunday, July 06, 2014

The rhetorical essence of punk is the decision to say what others believe should not be said. It points out the "no" lurking within or near every "yes." It demands an ongoing reckoning with true outsiders, and with what remains wrong in society despite everyone's best efforts, simply ...


The Hits Of Yesterday And Today

Thursday, July 03, 2014

When the members of the NPR Music team gathered to nominate songs for our mid-year favorites list, we discovered something: Half of our favorite pop songs in the summer of 2014 were actually released in 2013. This wasn't a huge surprise. As Chris Molanphy explained in a column ...


He'll Be There For You

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Three hankies and at least a dozen wry jokes into the summertime-sad film version of the novel The Fault in Our Stars, the story's heroine, Hazel Grace Lancaster, is speaking about her first love and fellow "cancer kid," Augustus Waters. Someone else refers to her as Gus's "special ...


First Listen: Jim Lauderdale, 'I'm A Song'

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I recently ran into Jim Lauderdale at a party in Nashville, and I couldn't tell if his shirt was made of silk or cotton. Covered in fiery little dragons that seemed to flit around inside its piped seams, it was a beauty. Lauderdale told me it was made of ...


A Gentle Buzz At The CMA Music Festival

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

American music festivals used to be mostly a summer thing, but in many ways they now frame the concert experience all year round. In these temporary hot spots for pleasure and cultural conversation, new artists emerge as sensations and established ones do special things with fans. Culture watchers note fashion ...


First Listen: Willie Nelson, 'Band Of Brothers'

Friday, June 06, 2014

When Willie Nelson was a young hustler selling songs to Patsy Cline's people, he probably never thought he'd become the crowd-anointed sage of country music. But that's what happened as the Redheaded Stranger went gray, turned smoking weed into a brand and a virtue, and produced a discography ...


Miranda Lambert's 'Priscilla,' An Ode To 'Being Queen Of A King'

Monday, June 02, 2014

Pop stars are the ideal companions of their fans' daydreams, speaking their most romantic hopes and defiant declarations through the songs on the Top 40. Miranda Lambert, however, is the kind of friend who's not going to take anybody's bull. As country's most lauded million-selling artist, beloved by everyday listeners ...


First Listen: Jose James, 'While You Were Sleeping'

Sunday, June 01, 2014

When the spirit of Nirvana surfaces in a song, the artist paying tribute almost always shares style points with that treasured band. The hair is shaggy, the clothes a little ragged; the lineage unfolds, relatively neatly, from punk to the present. Imagine, however, a jazz-trained vocalist fluent in hip-hop's ...


First Listen: Meshell Ndegeocello, 'Comet, Come To Me'

Sunday, May 25, 2014

"That's how I think of music, is just layers of patterns on top of patterns. And just the emotion of when you say something over and over again, to be understood."

Meshell Ndegeocello said these words during a musician's roundtable conversation I hosted in Seattle last month, explaining ...


First Listen: Joe Henry, 'Invisible Hour'

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Eternal love may sound great on paper, but in reality our most serious commitments break us as surely as they make us. To wed is to promise to accompany someone through the hope of romance into terrifying midlife and aggravating old age, enduring whatever ordinary disasters hit. To believe in ...


First Listen: Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, 'Dereconstructed'

Sunday, May 18, 2014

In north central Alabama, punk rockers often know as much about football as they do mosh pits. A guy with an arm-sleeve tattoo will open the door for a woman and call her "ma'am." Self-identifying as a blue dot in a red state doesn't preclude Sunday brunch with relatives whose ...


Why Tori Amos Connects

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

When I spent time on tour with Tori Amos a decade ago, collaborating with her on a book, I'd see her invoke the four elements many nights before her band would take the stage. This was a focusing ritual, taken up to remind everyone ...


Song Premiere: Naomi Shelton And The Gospel Queens, 'Sinner'

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

In 1963, Alabama was culturally closer to Brooklyn than it is now. The Great Migration of African-Americans out of the South created enclaves in cities all over the country, and the Civil Rights movement trained the eyes of the North on cities like Birmingham. Alabama native Naomi Shelton came to ...


Anonymous 4: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (But They're Doing It)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

In 1986, four women gathered in a casual setting to sing through a bit of medieval chant. Little did they know they were launching Anonymous 4, an a cappella ensemble that has spanned nearly 30 years, 20 albums, countless concerts and more than a millenium of music.

Today ...


Is It Worth It To Work It?

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Pop songs abound with fully loaded phrases disguised as harmless lyrical hooks. Here's one: work it. This finger-snapping command, which originated among black and Latino drag ball competitors as a way of acknowledging the labor of its self-constructed glamor goddesses — a house music staple made it famous, ...


Hear Four Musicians Talk About What Moves Them

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

When I asked Sharon Jones, Mike McCready, Alynda Lee Segarra and Meshell Ndegeocello to join in a public conversation inspired by the word GO! — which served as the keynote event for this year's EMP Pop Conference, the annual confab for people who love to think ...


First Listen: Wye Oak, 'Shriek'

Sunday, April 20, 2014

At some point, even babies who bask in the warmth of attachment parenting need to learn to self-soothe — to regulate their emotions without their parents' guidance or even a hug. Often they do it with a thing: a blankie, a binky, a stuffie. Adults are expected to be free ...