Beyonce

It was a monumental year for music. A lot of major artists dropped albums that were as big as they were important, speaking to events on both a personal and global scale. Seven out of the top 10 spots in our 2016 listener poll went to well-established or legacy artists, from Radiohead and Beyoncé to Bon Iver, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen. But if you dig a little deeper into the list you'll find some of 2016's best new artists, including Big Thief, Margaret Glaspy, Noname, Pinegrove and Joseph.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

2016: The Year Pop Went Country

Nov 22, 2016

2016 will be remembered for a lot of things. But for me, 2016 will be the year that everyone made a country album — including Lady Gaga.

Gary Krueger

This is Sample Size, our weekly new music feature with KOSU's Ryan LaCroix and LOOKatOKC music critic Matt Carney.

Today, Matt plays new music from Terry Allen, Japandroids, and Beyonce + Dixie Chicks.

Between his bands The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, as well as his more recent solo work, Jack White has won 12 Grammy awards and sold millions of albums.

A Beyoncé album release is now a communal experience. Who among us (and if you're here reading this, you're one of us) made it through this weekend without a conversation, typed or yelled, about her intent, her intonation, her read, her past, her bat, Serena, Tina, Etta, Warsan, Pipilotti, Zendaya? Whether you love her, hate her, or stay strong in your neutrality, our exchanges are kind of the point. This is what art makes us do. No doubt our opinions are in some places monetized and our vocalization of them surely buoys the price of Lemonade on up to $17.99.

On Saturday night, Beyoncé shook the music world with an hourlong feature on HBO, and then a surprise album — Lemonade.

Beyoncé couldn't have produced a body of work this defiant, or blunt, two years ago. Lemonade has been made possible by the cultural, social and political upheaval we're in the midst of, triggered by the deaths of boys and fathers and women, who will never be forgotten.

The "monoculture" has supposedly been dead for at least a decade, but it ain't necessarily so. World-devouring pop music phenomena do still exist, but today that universe is made entirely of Beyoncé — a Michael Jackson/Madonna/Prince figure whom everyone who cares about popular culture is supposed to grapple with and have big thoughts about.

This is Sample Size, our weekly new music feature with KOSU's Ryan LaCroix and LOOKatOKC music critic Matt Carney.

Today, Matt brings us the revolution rock of Sheer Mag, the biggest song of the past week from Beyonce, and Open Mike Eagle's song about obsessively checking your phone.

Author Jesmyn Ward won a National Book Award for Salvage the Bones, her gritty and lyrical novel of Hurricane Katrina-era Mississippi. In this essay, as in all of her work, she doesn't mince words.

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