Daoud Tyler-Ameen

If past generations saw their wanderlust reflected in Alice peering down a rabbit hole or Luke Skywalker staring down a sunset, the COVID-era equivalent will almost certainly involve a hero gazing into a screen: With most of the U.S. still advised to stay home as much as possible, televisions and smart devices feel more than ever like flickering portals, promising the addled mind passage to anywhere but our own four walls.

A sensitive college dramedy in the age of the teen sex romp, Amy Heckerling's Loser hit theaters in July 2000 with a thud. It failed to earn back its $20 million budget, and by the time stars Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari reunited in American Pie 2 a year later it was as good as forgotten. The film's legacy might have ended there if not for one thing: Tucked into its run-of-the-mill alternarock soundtrack was a song by an unknown New York band, whose self-titled debut wouldn't even be out for another month.


You know the feeling: Mention a brand of beer, fuss about feeling old or muse aloud about starting a family, and the appropriate summer ale, cosmetic neurotoxin or baby furniture ad wi

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

Given the saturation of comic-book blockbusters, it's remarkable that Black Panther's myth has only gained steam in the two years since the character first appeared on the big screen, knocking heads and shrugging off bullets.

In music and the culture it reflects, 2017 was predictably unpredictable: idols fell, empires shook, consensus was scarce. This conversation is one of five on The Record with artists, makers and thinkers whose work captured something unique about a chaotic year, and hinted at bigger revelations around the bend.

The Ted Leo who showed up to perform at our office this fall was no stranger to NPR Music; in fact, he'd stood on that very spot a few years earlier, trading verses with Aimee Mann in their collaborative project The Both. But he did seem like a changed man.

Now, Now's breakout album, Threads, was not as much about breaking up as holding on. Its songs carried in them a weary recognition of how desire and nostalgia linger in the body and mind, and zoomed in on the brittle filaments that bind together people who have long since declared themselves better off apart.

Clyde Stubblefield, the funk drummer whose work with James Brown made him one of the most sampled musicians in history, died Saturday morning in Madison, Wis., his publicist confirmed. Stubblefield was 73; his publicist did not provide a cause of death.

It's been a strange week. Tensions are high. If you haven't yet, you should probably take a break to watch Migos rap a children's book.

As "Never Were," a standout from Worriers' 2013 EP Cruel Optimist, reaches the end of its charging first verse, the drums and guitars stop on a dime. In a few evocative lines, we've just learned of singer Lauren Denitzio's journey from inquisitive child to dutiful student to radicalized young adult, eager to risk life and limb in the service of protest.

Late last year, Queens, N.Y., songwriter Elaiza Santos quietly announced that her recorded output was about to disappear. A college student with a world-weary voice, Santos had begun her music career on two fronts: as the lead singer of Crying, an adventurous rock trio that wreathes its riffs in vintage video-game sounds, and on her own as the stripped-down Whatever, Dad.

Quarterbacks empties its toolbox within the opening seconds of its self-titled full-length debut: a trebly guitar, a tight rhythm section whose home tempo lies somewhere in the Hüsker Dü range, a single subdued vocal. There's a dizzy little thrill in how deftly the three members carry off a pop song at punk speed, and a pang of tension in lyrics that pass almost too quickly to grasp: "When you said you loved me, did you just mean you missed me? ...

Pop music's great storytellers tend to be handy with the dissolve cut — using telling turns of phrase to signal that time has passed, things have changed and we're rejoining our characters somewhere new.

"Perhaps" opens with the same steady fingerpicking that made listeners sit up and take notice when the first Iron & Wine songs surfaced a decade ago.