Robin Hilton

All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton talks with NPR Music's Ann Powers and Lauren Onkey about the life and legacy of the Queen of Soul. Aretha Franklin passed away on Thursday at the age of 76. In this career-spanning conversation, we share the songs and stories behind one of the most influential artists of all time, from her earliest days singing gospel in her father's church, through her 1980s pop hits, later collaborations with artists like Lauryn Hill and much more.

We had wanted to get MILCK (aka Connie Lim) to the Tiny Desk ever since she captured the hearts of so many by performing her song "Quiet" during the Women's March On Washington last year. Before the concert, we talked a lot with her and her production team about how to best share her deeply affecting, anthemic pop songs. Should we have a choir? Maybe a string quartet?

All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Ann Powers, Lyndsey McKenna, and Sidney Madden to talk about June 8's standout albums. Highlights include the candid, introspective rock of Snail Mail, the jazzy, laid-back R&B of British singer Jorja Smith, the sultry pop of Lykke Li, and more.

Featured Albums

  1. River Whyless: Kindness, A Rebel
    Featured Song: "The Feeling Of Freedom"
  2. Serpentwithfeet: Soil
    Featured Song: "Whisper"

Last week, we asked listeners to tell us about the songs that got them through school. As the stories poured in, we began to see some clear and common themes. For starters, school, while being an exciting time of profound change, is really hard. Many told us stories of battling depression, anxiety and issues of sexual identity, all while navigating a churning sea of uncertainty.

What's Your Swan Song?

Jan 30, 2018

If you've ever considered your own mortality and just how, exactly, you'll take your final bow, there's a good chance you've picked a song you want played at your funeral. From Frank Sinatra's "My Way" to Monty Python's "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life" — or "Yakety Sax," the song my uncle chose to have played when his casket was wheeled out of the room – your final song, your swan song, can leave a lasting impression on those you leave behind. It's like a mission statement for the life you lived and how you want to be remembered.

"Slowly," the latest single from Son Lux's upcoming album Brighter Wounds, takes an unnerving look at life in the age of alternative facts and fake news. Set against spare beats and icy electronics, frontman Ryan Lott imagines a world where lies both undo society — while simultaneously allowing people to believe everything is okay.

Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan is a complicated guy. In the years since that iconic and much-beloved rock band broke up in 2000, Corgan has continued to put out music under various names and projects – including several releases as Smashing Pumpkins, with different lineups – while often stumbling through a bumpy minefield of his own making.

The season of list-making, specifically (for us) lists about the year's best music, is rapidly descending. But before the craziness begins over who had the best album or song in 2017, we thought we'd look back at some of our previous top-ten lists to see if they even hold up. As you can imagine, some albums we once thought were great have since lost their luster, while others haven't aged a day.

What songs – no matter how good or how adored they are – have been played to death and need to be removed from the canon? What songs are beyond reproach – songs so perfect and sublime they're given a free pass to remain in heavy rotation forever?

Tell us what you think. Below are ten suggestions; tell us if they should be retired or if they're simply untouchable. At the end of the poll you can also write-in your own picks.

NOTE: This poll has closed.

Wilco has released a new song against ignorance and violence in the wake of last weekend's unrest in Charlottesville, VA. The track, called "All Lives, You Say?" is a short country shuffle that takes aim at the slogan "All Lives Matter," designed as a counter-protest to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Chance The Rapper knew he wanted to try a different approach for his Tiny Desk performance, so he decided to do something he said he hadn't done in a long time. He wrote a poem. More specifically, he wrote a poem in the short time it took him to ride from his hotel in Washington, D.C. to the NPR Music offices. Calling it "The Other Side," Chance debuted it in the middle of his remarkable set, reading from his notes written out in black marker on sheets of typing paper.

We're not quite to the halfway point of 2017 and we've already discovered dozens of new artists who've gone on to become a permanent part of our musical lives, from Diet Cig and Charly Bliss to Overcoats, Vagabon, This Is The Kit and many more. We'll define a "new" artist as someone who released their debut full-length in 2017. (If they haven't released a full album, an EP or single can count).

As the 50th anniversary of the greatest rock album of all time rapidly nears, Capitol Records is sharing a previously unreleased outtake from the Sgt. Pepper's recording sessions. The clip, premiered at The Guardian, is a stripped-down version of the album's opening title cut and includes some fantastic chatter between John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison.

The Joshua Tree, the album that made U2 global megastars, turns 30 this year. To mark the milestone, the band will perform the seminal album in its entirety at several live performances scheduled throughout the year, including a headlining spot at Bonnaroo in June.

Last week, after I played a monstrously good guitar rock cut by Major Stars, Bob Boilen rolled his eyes while foolishly claiming the guitar solo was dead. So we did an entirely scientific poll (it wasn't scientific) on Twitter to see what listeners thought. As I expected, the vast majority — nearly 70 percent — said, "No, Bob." The guitar solo is not dead.

It's hard to get your head around the amount of work it must have taken to make the new video for Son Lux's "Change Is Everything." Conceived and produced by The Made Shop, the whole thing was painstakingly pieced together entirely with a foam white board, a whole bunch of map pins and old-school stop motion animation.

I grew up in a town of about 6,000 people in rural Kansas back in the '70s and '80s. I've never romanticized it much, though it was certainly a simpler time and, for better or worse, it's where I learned to make some sense of my life. The world you inhabit when you come of age in your teen years has a way of digging its claws in you. As the years pass, no matter how far you try to get away from it, it stays with you. The people, the places, the sounds and even the smells become a part of your DNA.