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

Vinyl rocks. Maybe it's a niche market, but all the new record stores in the Twin Cities area, such as Barely Brothers Records in St. Paul and Mill City Sound in Hopkins, have renewed my enthusiasm for vinyl.

Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, "Uptown Funk." I love hearing this Time-influenced jam everywhere — even while tailgating in the Lambeau Field parking lot.

New talent. It's refreshing to hear all the young emerging artists who are not even old enough to buy an adult beverage — local talent such as Spooky Black, Hippo Campus and Stereo Confession; England's Jake Bugg, and Atlanta's Raury.

Bill DeVille, DJ, 89.3 the Current

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Missy Elliott, Super Bowl halftime. Even though many viewers had no clue who she was, the veteran rapper seized the moment, proving that performing skills are more important than production concepts. There was more heart and soul in Missy's medley than in Katy Perry's entire performance.

Tower of Power, the Dakota. The longtime lead singer left; the drummer is out with a hip replacement, and the bassist is recuperating with a new kidney. But you can't stop this Oakland funk machine. The horns are crisp and jazzy, the bottom fat and funky, and new singer Ray Greene is a soulful showman who brings a bit of church to the mix.

Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney, "FourFiveSeconds." The stark, no-frills black-and-white video coupled with the melodic minimalism of the tune make this curious experiment even more appealing.

Jon Bream, Star Tribune