Stephen Thompson

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NOEL KING, HOST:

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.

They feel like sepia-toned dispatches from the Before-Times, beamed from a magical place where musicians could safely raise their voices indoors and let their assembled droplets waft over an appreciative crowd. But the 50 Tiny Desk concerts we published this year — the ones we recorded in NPR Music's Washington, D.C., offices before the pandemic hit — reflect not only a recent past but also a promise for the relatively near future.

Pandemic life has short-circuited many holiday traditions this year, as intergenerational family togetherness has given way to Zoom calls, and Black Friday shopping has given way to the sweet, sweet absence of Black Friday shopping. But it's also a golden opportunity to reboot your routines: to start baking Christmas cookies, or make handmade greeting cards, or lock down a pact with your family to leave the tree up until summer. These are heady and challenging times, so what's to keep you from declaring that Christmas, for you and yours, now takes place from Dec. 23 until June 23?

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We've been talking about the politics of President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet choices - now a very different review of the work of one particular member of the incoming Biden team. Here's NPR's Stephen Thompson with that.

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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Tracy Chapman didn't take long to release her masterpiece.

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It's been nearly five years since Adele released her blockbuster Grammy-festooned album 25 — so you'd

This week's Saturday Night Live musical guest was supposed to be Morgan Wallen, before the country singer got himself disinvited.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

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.

Eddie Van Halen, the guitarist and songwriter who helped give the rock band Van Halen its name and sound, died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. He was 65.

His death was announced by his son, Wolf Van Halen, on Twitter.

"I can't believe I'm having to write this," the statement said, "but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning. He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift."

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