A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:


R.E.M., “Recovering My Religion.” A version of the well-known 1991 single that reverses the mood of this maudlin, midtempo rocker by digitally modifying its key from minor to major. Music geeks, unite!

“I Am Your Conscious, I Am Love” by Hilton Als, Harper’s. This recent article discusses fandom, sexuality and race in the music of Prince. One of the more thoughtful essays I have seen on the topic.

Beyoncé, “The Star Spangled Banner.” A fantastic arrangement and great (pre-recorded) vocal display that sparked yet another national debate about lip-synching. Isn’t it funny to witness the public’s reaction when faced with the “Great and Powerful Oz” behind the curtain of modern musical performance?

ANDREW FLORY, music professor, Carleton College, Northfield, Minn.

Contribute pop music@startribune.com


Prince returns. Turns out the Dakota engagement was just the beginning. Prince has set up a new website (20pr1nc3.com), released a new single (“Screwdriver”) and given an extensive interview to Billboard for its current cover.

Aaron Neville, Hopkins Center for the Arts. Working with pianist Michael Goods, the New Orleans treasure interpreted a wealth of R&B and rock classics with gentle but penetrating soulfulness.

Tony Bennett, State. The crooner’s voice was as strong as ever at age 86. And he soared on “Fly Me to the Moon” without a microphone. Remarkable once again.

Jon Bream, Star Tribune