Robin Hilton

Note: Voting in this poll has closed. We will post results on Monday Dec. 18.


NPR Music's Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Songs will be out this week. Our All Songs Considered Year-In-Review roundtable is now online.

You can also sign up for the All Songs Considered newsletter and we'll send you a note when all these lists go up.

Only Walter Martin would bring a barbershop quartet to the Tiny Desk. Best known as a singer and multi-instrumentalist with the band The Walkmen, Martin has spent his solo career making unabashedly joyful, sweetly innocent and playful music perfectly suited for quirky four-part harmonies. It works particularly well on the song with which he opens this performance, "I Went Alone On A Solo Australian Tour," a brilliant and comical call-and-response story-song about, well, going alone on a solo Australian tour.

10 Years Considered

Nov 20, 2017

There's been a world of change in the ten years since NPR Music first started in November 2007. Consider how, just about a decade ago, All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen was publishing a list of his favorite "CDs" of 2007. It almost feels quaint now.

Bob Boilen is like a child this time of year, his eyes and ears full of wonder, as he traipses through the NPR Music offices, vigorously jingling his collection of sleigh bells. He believes, in his heart, that he's truly getting everyone in the spirit of the holiday season. But it's always been a steady source of irritation for me.

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.

In a career spanning three decades, Beck has remained one of music's most intriguing shapeshifters. From the warped folk of his earliest recordings to the chopped-up samples, hip-hop beats and lush orchestral arrangements of albums that followed, Beck has never lingered in one sonic world for long.

Weezer has never quite made the same album twice. Over 25 years of making music and nearly a dozen releases, guitar rock has remained the band's core sound. But the moods and narratives, the production and frontman Rivers Cuomo's singing style have all shifted so dramatically with each album that it's sometimes hard for some fans to make sense of it.

It'd been more than three years since Tune-Yards released new music, but the singer and multi-instrumentalist Merrill Garbus is back, now as a duo with Nate Brenner. Her new single is a sonic thrill ride called "Look At Your Hands," and it's from her just-announced album, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life (out Jan. 19). Garbus says the new song is a meditation on the mess she feels the world is in and how various political and cultural -isms manifest themselves within her.

The best film scores walk a delicate line: They help propel the story, guide an audience's emotions and are also often a distinct character, with a role and voice as important as any actor's — but they also have to do all that without getting in the way, or drawing too much attention.

It's not unusual for film composers to make music out of organic sounds found in or related to the movie. Take Nathan Johnson's stunning Looper score which was built on a foundation of sampled clicks and pops that captured the film's steampunk creakiness. Or, more elementally, the typewriter rhythms Mark Mothersbaugh used for his Royal Tenenbaums score, emulating the film's anachronistic storytelling themes.

Sufjan Stevens is sharing a rare outtake he recorded while making his 2015 album Carrie & Lowell. The song, "Wallowa Lake Monster," is one of several previously unreleased tracks included in an upcoming collection of remixes, demos and alternate versions of songs from that period.

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.

It's hard to record a show like ours in the wake of a tragedy as profound as what happened in Las Vegas this past Sunday. But we hope the music we're sharing this week gives you time to reflect and, if needed, escape. One thing we know: Songs, in times like this, often take on new meaning.

Anyone who's seen Torres perform live (or listened to her 2015 sophomore Sprinter) knows what a confrontational force she is. She quietly rages, maybe seethes, on stage, with the kind of intensity that can leave fans both rattled and transfixed. It's like watching storm clouds rise and darken, captivated by their beauty while knowing that at any moment they could swirl out of control and turn into a full-blown cyclone.

Protomartyr doesn't make music for the casual listener. Over the course of four full-length albums, the Detroit-based band has produced a collection of lyrically dense, deeply philosophical (and usually very loud) songs that grapple with some of life's thorniest questions: What does it mean to be human? What is truth? What is the nature of good and evil?

Protomartyr lead singer and lyricist Joe Casey is, to say the least, a seeker — an existential traveler in search of a higher state of consciousness and meaning in an often callous, senseless world.

Composer Hans Zimmer and Radiohead have teamed up to reimagine the band's song "Bloom," taken from 2011's The King of Limbs. The new version, much slower and sparer than the original, has been retitled "ocean (Bloom)" and was recomposed to soundtrack the upcoming BBC documentary Blue Planet II.

Radiohead shared a trailer with the music this morning on Twitter.

"Open your mouth wide," sings Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke over stunning, underwater footage of sea life. "The universal sigh / And while the ocean blooms / It's what keeps me alive."

It's hard to think of an artist who's brought more joy to more people, across more generations — and in more ways — than Steve Martin. In the 1970s, he won the hearts of young children for his playful appearances with The Muppets while simultaneously charming legions of older fans with his subversive standup routines. Later, as an actor, he wrote and starred in some of the most memorable comedies (and a few dramas) of all time, while writing books, plays and even a Broadway musical.

In a posthumous new video for Leonard Cohen's "Leaving The Table," an animated paper cutout of the late singer dances and flies over a cityscape of Montreal, free as a bird, untethered from the mortal world.

Björk's latest song, like much of the Icelandic singer's work, is strangely seductive. "The Gate" heaves and sighs with spare arrangements of strings and woodwinds before expanding magnificently in a bloom of warped electronics that sound a lot like the work of dubstep artist Burial.

"I care for you" Björk trills, over and over. "Split into many parts / Splattered light beams into prisms that will reunite if you care for me."

Half-Light, the debut solo release from former Vampire Weekend producer and multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij, is one of the year's most arresting albums. Its breathtaking choral and string arrangements, idiosyncratic beats and intricate wordplay make it practically impossible to hear without giving it your undivided attention.

Few traumas in life feel as suffocating or isolating — or are as relatable — as enduring a broken heart. The shallow breaths and loneliness can be overwhelming. For Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan, it's not unlike a solo journey through the deepest, darkest reaches of space, or walking alone in an empty city.

Okovi, the latest full-length from Zola Jesus, is a monstrously tortured album, built with densely layered grief and pain. Nika Roza Danilova, who's been writing and recording as Zola Jesus since releasing her debut in 2009, bares her most vulnerable thoughts and feelings as she sings about serial killers, suicide, crushing depression and fear. At times, even Danilova admits the songs are hard to hear.

Singer Dave Matthews, who formed his band in Charlottesville, Va. in 1991, will host a benefit concert for the city following last month's violent protests there. Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande, Pharrell, Chris Stapleton, The Roots and Brittany Howard of The Alabama Shakes are slated to perform, along with other not-yet-named special guests.

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