Stephen Thompson

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2021 was supposed to be better than 2020, and right now, that's looking questionable. But there are some good things coming our way, like new music.

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This year's interminable election season has helped spawn an outsize assortment of frequently vital protest music. Late Tuesday, as part of Stephen Colbert's election-night special for Showtime, Arcade Fire premiered the first big post-election protest song of 2020.

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The guitarist, bandleader and songwriter Eddie Van Halen died today of cancer. He was 65. His band Van Halen spanned more than four decades, 12 albums, three lead singers and some of the most dramatic guitar solos in rock 'n' roll history.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected musicians around the world. Many have had to cancel tours, delay album releases and find new sources of income. But some artists have found inspiration in the virus.

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Bon Iver's recent music has been intricately crafted enough that it's bound to roll out sparingly: The gaps

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Billie Eilish, at just 18 years old, is already one of the world's biggest pop stars.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BAD GUY")

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has announced its 35th annual class of inductees, honoring six musical acts — Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G. and T-Rex — as well as veteran rock journalist, producer and artist manager Jon Landau.

The inducted musicians were chosen from a ballot of 16 finalists, which meant fans of Pat Benatar, Dave Matthews Band, Judas Priest, Kraftwerk, MC5, Motörhead, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren, Soundgarden and Thin Lizzy will have to wait at least another year for Rock Hall validation.

Even though 2019 just ended, we're already looking ahead to the albums scheduled to come out in the first half of 2020. From Moses Sumney's upcoming double album to a folk supergroup starring two of the minds behind Hadestown and Fruit Bats, here are some albums we can't wait to hear in 2020.

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Three new artists dominated the pop charts in 2019 - Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish and Lizzo.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TRUTH HURTS")

LIZZO: (Singing) Why men great till they got to be great? Don't text me. Tell it straight to my face.

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We're barely done scraping the frost off the disintegrating jack o' lanterns we neglected to remove from our front porches, and it's already time to argue about "Baby, It's Cold Outsid

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And finally today, have you picked your song of the summer?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DESPACITO")

LUIS FONSI: (Singing in Spanish)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CALIFORNIA GURLS")

KATY PERRY: (Singing) California girls, we're unforgettable...

This week's somewhat abbreviated edition of New Music Friday includes an ambitious collaboration between Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O and producer Danger Mouse; the British electronic duo The Cinematic Orchestra returns with its first new album in more than a decade, featuring singer Moses Sumney, rapper Roots Manuva and other guests; and Pavement's Stephen Malkmus injects his woozy rock with a strange jolt of electronica. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Stephen Thompson as they share their picks for the best new albums out on March 15.

SXSW Music Preview

Mar 10, 2019

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We made it, everyone! This year's Grammy Awards telecast rolled past the three-and-a-half-hour mark with its share of controversies, but also served up a string of satisfying winners, memorable performances and a GIF sure to endure until roughly the moment life on earth is extinguished. Here are 10 takeaways from 2019's overstuffed and idiosyncratic Grammy Awards.

Believe it or not, Cher's dance anthem "Believe" has just turned 20 years old. The song, released on Oct. 22, 1998, kicked off a Cher renaissance, cemented her role as a pop icon and popularized a controversial fixture of pop music today — Auto-Tune.

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It's springtime, and depending on where you live, you've likely either already begun the year's first May weekend or are getting ready to set out into the world.

In the run-up to SXSW 2015, the All Songs Considered team could agree on one pop jam to rule them all: Genevieve's "Colors." Sometimes billed as "Show Your Colors," the song has popped up in commercials and landed the singer at the Tiny Desk, where curmudgeonly pop skeptic Bob Boilen couldn't help but marvel at how thoroughly he'd been won over.

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Tom Petty wrote a lot of hits during his more than 40 years making music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMERICAN GIRL")

TOM PETTY: (Singing) Well, she was an American girl.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "REFUGEE")

It's hard not to view 2017 as a year of great reckoning; as a time in which the world is forced to contemplate consequences ranging from ugly political divides to environmental disasters to a wave of high-profile resignations and humiliations over decades of sexual misconduct. Though escapism will always have its place in pop culture, 2017 has been a year of complacency deferred and sleeping giants roused. So it's only natural that much of the year's best music would reflect that tumult, albeit in radically different ways.

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And now a goodbye to the Warped Tour.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE ROCK SHOW")

BLINK-182: (Singing) I couldn't wait for the summer and the Warped Tour. I remember it's the first time that I saw her there.

For such an unassuming rock star, Tom Petty sure got to live a lot of lives.

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(SOUNDBITE OF PRINCE SONG, "KISS")

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