A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Bonnie Dickel Hoffman of Golden Valley:
"Revisionist History." This Malcolm Gladwell podcast featured an excerpt from his audio book "Miracle and Wonder: Conversations With Paul Simon." I enjoyed Simon rhapsodizing about gospel great Claude Jeter's falsetto on "Take Me to the Mardi Gras." Simon said Jeter injected a line into a recording of "Mary Don't You Weep" that inspired "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
"Mix Tape Melody Showdown." On "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," Ariana Grande and Kelly Clarkson went head-to-head doing iconic tunes from the likes of Shania Twain, Whitney Houston and Cher. It was a preview of "That's My Jam," Fallon's new reality game show premiering Jan. 3. Search online for Grande's flawless impression of Celine Dion.
2021 best album lists. Thankfully there's Metacritic.com to aggregate the multitude of best lists, through January. "Sometimes I Might Be Introvert" by Little Simz is currently winning, but at No. 4 is "Sour" by Olivia Rodrigo, which was first on lists from Billboard, Rolling Stone and Star Tribune critics Chris Riemenschneider and Jon Bream.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:
COVID pivots. With the coronavirus surging once again, many performances have been canceled or postponed. Not David Byrne, who has temporarily revamped his Broadway show as "American Utopia: Unchained," adding Talking Heads and solo tunes because some of his musicians are on the COVID list. Not Phish, whose annual end-of-the-year engagement at Madison Square Garden was canceled. Instead, they're streaming a live New Year's Eve concert sans live audience.
Kennedy Center Honors. In a night filled with countless memories, there were special musical moments by a new generation of singers, notably Brittany Howard and Brandi Carlile saluting Joni Mitchell, and Billy Porter honoring Bette Midler. And Stevie Wonder was extra-special hailing Berry Gordy.
The Bad Plus, the Dakota. With the addition of saxophonist Chris Speed and guitarist Ben Monder, the lineup and instrumentation have changed. So, too, the texture of the music of this 21-year-old ensemble. But the good vibes and intelligent jazz remains the same. What a Christmastime treat.
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