Haim

This year that was like no other ended up making me respond to its music in a way I never had before. The pandemic, along with unprecedented political and social upheaval, made the notion of pleasure both more intense and more open to question.

There was a general feeling among almost everyone I know that we didn't just want to be transported by new music — we needed to be transported: The escapism of art was one of the few things we had control over.

To celebrate the end of this godforsaken year, we are publishing a special edition of Heavy Rotation — our popular, monthly series that features songs public radio can't stop playing. This list of songs is ranked by total plays across various NPR Member stations across the country. Even in a pandemic, public radio endures: Here are the most popular 30 songs from 2020.

The Best Music Of 2020: NPR Staff Picks

Dec 4, 2020

This week we shared NPR Music's best songs and albums of 2020, lists voted on, politely argued over and presented by our staff, station partners and contributors. Today we're featuring the good stuff from the private reserves. Below you'll find lists of top 10 albums and songs from the members of NPR Music's staff.

The 50 Best Albums Of 2020

Dec 2, 2020

At certain moments, 2020 felt like a year that might not ever come to an end. Now that it's mostly in our rear view, can a retrospective give a shape to that swarm of weeks and months? Can we make sense of layer upon layer of fear, anger, frustration, confusion, exhilaration and exhaustion that piled up like soil falling over our heads? Sometimes art breaks through. Better to think of the best music of 2020 as an urgent cacophony of distinct voices rather than a chorus with a single melody. Many voices, with many stories to tell.

When the 63rd annual Grammy Awards ceremony airs on Sunday, Jan, 31, the show will probably be unlike any Grammys we've seen before. The pandemic has changed the music industry in all sorts of ways, and that includes its "biggest night" — but there's still a ton of great music to celebrate, and many of this year's nominated artists are World Cafe alumni.

The Recording Academy announced its 2021 Grammy nominations on Tuesday, with Beyonce, rising pop star Dua Lipa and stoner superstar Post Malone leading a diffuse field.

Beyonce features on two songs in the record of the year category, which essentially rewards the year's best single: the remix of Megan Thee Stallion's "Savage" and her own "Black Parade." The latter was also nominated for song of the year, which is awarded to the winner's songwriters.

The sister band HAIM is synonymous with the sound of Los Angeles — sunny, airy and wistful. After a two-month delay due to the coronavirus, sisters Este, Danielle and Alana finally get to share their third record, Women in Music Pt. III, with their fans. NPR's Scott Detrow spoke to the Haim sisters about creating a record that's a little less sun and a little bit more shade as they explore some of the darker challenges that each sister has faced lately. Listen in the audio player above.

NPR Music's Top 20 Songs Of March

Mar 31, 2020

Stream this playlist via Spotify or Apple Music.

Music affords an escape, takes us back in time to reflect on the present, mirrors our aches and joys and offers serenity. As relentless news about the coronavirus continues, these songs were gifts during difficult times.

There must be some alternate reality where Danielle, Este and Alana — the sisters HAIM — are the tough-talkin'-but-tender co-owners of a deli. They've got the best pastrami in town, never skimp on the smoked salmon spread and get their pumpernickel from the nice old man down the street. They dish tough love to young folks, experiment with weird schmears and hug-it-out over bad breakups. At the very least, it's a heart-warming sitcom idea.

NPR Music's Top 15 Songs Of November

Dec 2, 2019

Stream this playlist via Spotify or Apple Music.

There's still some fight in 2019 left. Some of November's best songs come from late-year album contenders, some are stand-alone singles and still more point to what's ahead in 2020. We say, "Bring it on!"

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