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

Elliott H. Powell, University of Minnesota professor:

1 Kelis, "Midnight Snacks." After a brief hiatus from music, the singer/songwriter/cookbook author/chef is back with a new single. With artwork that alludes to the Ohio Players' 1975 album "Honey," "Midnight Snacks" finds Kelis retaining her gastromusicological crown as the culinary chanteuse, pursuing the intersections of food, sex and sound, and locating the kinds of pleasures we encounter in and through the oral, aural and tactile senses.

2 The return of Blackground Records. After a decade of fan pleas and false starts, the revived label is finally reissuing its catalog across all streaming platforms. The rollout includes re-releases from JoJo, Timbaland & Magoo, Tank, Toni Braxton and the label's star, Aaliyah.

3 "A Sentimental Christmas With Nat King Cole and Friends: Cole Classics Reimagined." Perhaps stretching the word "spirit" in the phrase "spirit of Christmas" to its limits, this release has remastered Cole's vocals and brought in the likes of Johnny Mathis, Calum Scott, Gloria Estefan, Kristin Chenoweth and John Legend to add their voices to Cole's classics. These new cross-temporal collaborations provide a cross-generational pull of the heartstrings that accompany the holiday season.

Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:

1 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction speeches. The Rock Hall landed some A-list presenters — including Taylor Swift (for Carole King), Paul McCartney (Foo Fighters), Dr. Dre (LL Cool J) and Dave Chappelle (Jay-Z) – who gave grade-A speeches. Can't wait for the broadcast Nov. 20 on HBO.

2 Summer Walker's "brutal" record contract, Rolling Stone. Journalist Elias Leight delves into the onerous contracts that wannabes sign with major labels and managers affiliated with those labels. Although the article relies on unnamed sources in the case of R&B star Walker, it is a cautionary tale about signing away rights and royalties.

3 John Hiatt with Jerry Douglas Band, Pantages Theatre. Dobro master Douglas' progressively swampy, drummer-less combo was the perfect choice to back the stellar singer-songwriter. Highlight: "Memphis in the Meantime" with some fierce pickin'.

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