Ken Tucker

From 18-year-old Olivia Rodrigo to 83-year-old Peter Stampfel, critic Ken Tucker says the music he most enjoyed in 2021 was recorded by artists who were either very young or quite old.

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Six years before his death in 2016, Prince recorded — but did not release — Welcome 2 America. Who knows why Prince opted to hide it away in 2010; this album's sound is very much of-the-moment.

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This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF PHOEBE BRIDGERS SONG, "CHRISTMAS SONG")

This year that was like no other ended up making me respond to its music in a way I never had before. The pandemic, along with unprecedented political and social upheaval, made the notion of pleasure both more intense and more open to question.

There was a general feeling among almost everyone I know that we didn't just want to be transported by new music — we needed to be transported: The escapism of art was one of the few things we had control over.

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