Ann Powers

Ann Powers appears in the following:

Country Music's Year Of The Woman

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Sometimes, it can be difficult to notice a cultural sea change. At first, there's just a little, unexpected turn in the tide. But then, whoosh! The new current takes over, and old preconceptions are swept away. Country music seems to be in the middle of this process now.

Last May, ...


Five Musicians Who Make Borrowing Sound Original

Friday, May 31, 2013

Last Friday, on Bob Dylan's birthday, I spent the morning checking out old interviews with the supreme trickster on YouTube. I came across this one, from the 1980s, in which an Australian journalist asks Dylan how he'd like to be remembered.

"Oh, as someone who tried ...


The Canadian Astronaut's Accompanist

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

North America's newest pop star is exiting International Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield, whose truly space-age rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" has racked up more than 11 million YouTube hits since being posted Sunday. After marveling at Hadfield's lovely Canadian tenor voice, his moustache and his command ...


Robots In Ecstasy: Daft Punk's 'Memories' Embraces The Pleasure Principle

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Give life back to music," coo the robots on the first track of Daft Punk's new album, Random Access Memories, which showed up yesterday on iTunes after a long period of near-hysterical anticipation and advance marketing. Does the veteran Parisian dance music duo succeed in doing ...


Harry Connick, 'Idol' And The Pop Charts: Can You Define 'Good' Singing?

Monday, May 06, 2013

What defines good singing? Technique or feeling? That argument, a perennial among music lovers, roared back into the foreground last week after Harry Connick, Jr. appeared on American Idol. The fortysomething pianist and crooner found himself trending on Twitter for the first time since his acting run on ...


First Listen: Music From Baz Luhrmann's Film 'The Great Gatsby'

Thursday, May 02, 2013

One of the many trailers promoting Baz Lurhmann's film version of The Great Gatsby ends with Leo DiCaprio uttering a crucial line adapted from the original novel. "My life has got to be like this," he says, pointing a finger toward the sky. "It's got to keep going ...


First Listen: Natalie Maines, 'Mother'

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I hope that, somewhere in her beautiful Brentwood home, Natalie Maines has a jar full of nickels that gets fuller every time someone calls her "fearless." The Dixie Chicks singer is well-known as a firebrand who never hesitates to share her progressive views about both politics and pop music. ...


What Nick Drake Taught Me About Art And Love

Thursday, April 18, 2013

It was in Seattle's Frye Art Museum that I first found endless love with a work of art. My mother often took us there to look at the landscapes and portraits bequeathed by the culturally aspirational owner of a local meatpacking plant. The canvas that fascinated me was ...


Mark Lanegan: A Secret Rock Star Still Shines Darkly

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

There are unsung heroes of rock and roll, and then there are complicated cases like Mark Lanegan. The Washington State-born rocker with the voice like a shifting fog earned a spot in rock history as singer for the 1990s slacker psychedelic group the Screaming Trees — remember "Nearly ...


Song Premiere: John Grant, 'It Doesn't Matter To Him'

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Some songwriters are so adept at capturing the mess and miracle of everyday emotion that their work resonates as exceptionally truthful. John Grant is one of those. In recent years, the 44-year-old former frontman for Colorado rock band the Czars has produced two exceptional collections of funny, brutal, nuanced songs ...


Lessons From SXSW 2013: Take The Middle Road

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

That guy Prince has a sense of humor. His closing night show at the year's South By Southwest music conference and festival was advertised with the hashtag #thenextbigthing — as if the Purple One hadn't long ago established himself as the Dickensian Big Thing of festivals ...


Luella And The Sun: NPR Front Row

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Nashville's Luella and the Sun approach the blues and gospel-soul as if these traditions were the food of the gods and they haven't eaten for a week. Luella herself has a ferocious, feminine voice, and performs with zero fear. If you like the White Stripes, you will love the fire ...


Stevie Nicks: 'When We Walk Into The Room, We Have To Float In Like Goddesses'

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The true rock legends change the game. Stevie Nicks, as a member of Fleetwood Mac, and later in her solo career, changed the game not only for women, but for what you could do in rock as a songwriter and a singer. While living in the male-dominated world ...


First Listen: Kacey Musgraves, 'Same Trailer Different Park'

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A month before she graduated from high school in her small hometown of Mineola, Texas, Kacey Musgraves reached up high and stuck a piece of paper on a hallway wall. The school principal, Ricky Stephens, just let it sit there, in case the singer-songwriter got famous one day. We don't ...


David Bowie, Rock's Shape Shifter, Returns

Friday, March 01, 2013

Hear Ann Powers talk about David Bowie's career, and his new album, with Morning Edition's Renee Montagne by clicking the audio link above.

My musical world does not exist without David Bowie's influence. This is certainly hyperbole; and yet when I think of the past 10 ...


Feminism, Beyoncé And 'The Mrs. Carter Show'

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The 31-year-old singer announced after her Super Bowl performance that her upcoming world tour would be called “The Mrs. Carter Show” — referencing her husband, Jay-Z, née Shawn Car...

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The Mrs. Carter Show; Kishi Bashi; Beware of Mr. Baker

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

In this episode: Beyoncé has has been known by many names: “Queen B,” “Foxxy Cleopatra,” and, of course, “Sasha Fierce.” Arielle Loren and Ann Powers talk with us about Beyonce's newest persona: Mrs. Carter.

Plus: Kishi Bashi, aka K. Ishibashi, used to be the go-to guy when indie bands like Of Montreal needed a violin. Now, he’s struck out on his own -- and he joins us to bring his melodic chamber-pop to life.

And: When filmmaker Jay Bulger titled his latest documentary Beware of Mr. Baker, he wasn’t exaggerating. The film stars the legendary, volatile and reclusive drummer Ginger Baker, known for his work in bands like Cream and Blind Faith -- and, more notoriously, for his drug use and temper. We talk with Jay Bulger about the making of the film, and Baker’s musical genius.

A Dramatic "Climax" and Swans' Comeback: Ann Powers' 2012 Music Survey

Friday, December 28, 2012

From a cringe-worthy "Roofie anthem" to an emerging Americana artist, NPR Music critic Ann Powers shares her answers to our 2012 Music Survey. 


Critics Look Back At 2012: The Worst Of The Year (And Some Good Stuff Too)

Friday, December 28, 2012

NPR Music critic Ann Powers joins us to look at what topped her her list in 2012, including one very sexy slow jam. Then, we turn the Soundcheck 2012 Music Survey on its head and asks...

Bitch Bad? Dissecting Pop Music's Favorite Five-Letter Word

Friday, September 28, 2012

Last month, both rapper Kanye West's "Perfect Bitch" and Lupe Fiasco's "Bitch Bad" rekindled an age-old debate about the use of the word "bitch" in music. Pop music critic Ann Powers  recently wrote about the term for the NPR Music blog The Record. Powers joined us to talk about the history of the word's usage in music -- from 1920s blues ballads to Elton John's proclamation that the "Bitch is Back" -- and to explain why the word "bitch" continues to make her uncomfortable. 

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