Stephen Thompson

This week's Saturday Night Live musical guest was supposed to be Morgan Wallen, before the country singer got himself disinvited.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The guitarist, bandleader and songwriter Eddie Van Halen died today of cancer. He was 65. His band Van Halen spanned more than four decades, 12 albums, three lead singers and some of the most dramatic guitar solos in rock 'n' roll history.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.


We've been trying to make a BTS Tiny Desk concert happen for years now — even gaming out ways we might move Bob Boilen's desk far enough forward to accommodate the superstar Korean boy band's dance moves.

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Back in April, during the early days of COVID-19, Bon Iver dropped a seemingly free-standing single called "

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When John Prine died on April 7 due to complications from COVID-19, he didn't just leave behind a rich recorded legacy.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Cue the Hamilton quotes: Soon the room where it happens will be your living room! Shout it to the rooftops that the Broadway sensation Hamilton will be available for home viewing this summer! Look around, look around to see how lucky we are to be alive in a world where Hamilton is coming to Disney+ on July 3, more than 15 months ahead of schedule!

Back in the Before-Times, when Tiny Desk concerts were held in front of gatherings of people — "crowds," we called them — we'd remind everyone in attendance to silence their cell phones. When the music was loud enough, it didn't matter if people followed instructions. But when Daughter of Swords came to grace us with a few hushed folk songs, the music was so eerily still, you could have heard a phone vibrate.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected musicians around the world. Many have had to cancel tours, delay album releases and find new sources of income. But some artists have found inspiration in the virus.

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Bon Iver's recent music has been intricately crafted enough that it's bound to roll out sparingly: The gaps between all four

It's tempting, when assessing great creative works, to funnel all credit to a lone genius — a writer, a singer, a director, an artist, or a name that sits atop a marquee. It's so much easier to be spared the task of teasing out greatness from an interconnected web of contributors, partners, helpers, teachers and organizers. We can accept a songwriting credit that reads "Lennon-McCartney," but our icons — our geniuses, our auteurs — more often stand alone, lest their stars seem diminished.

Hometown: San Francisco, California

Genre: Folk

Why We're Excited: As Field Medic, singer-songwriter Kevin Patrick Sullivan uses the sparest of ingredients — an acoustic guitar, sparse drum-machine beats, an unadorned voice — to build lo-fi folk songs that crackle with vibrant intimacy. In "henna tattoo," Sullivan's small but vividly poetic details help bring together a tentative and vulnerable song about jealousy, insecurity, doubt and "rolling blackouts in your heart."

Hometown: Christchurch, New Zealand

Genre: Folk

Why We're Excited: Born in New Mexico and raised in New Zealand, Holly Arrowsmith writes languid, yearning folk songs that frequently draw on the natural world for inspiration. She's toured with fellow New Zealander Tiny Ruins, and her songs vibrate at a similar frequency: They're spare, subtle, approachable and utterly beautiful, anchored by a voice that pulls you close and cancels the noise outside.

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Genre: Folk

Why We're Excited: GIRL SKIN's gentle folk songs benefit enormously from their soft chamber-pop bent, which helps an ambitious, sweeping quality to Sid Simons' softly contemplative lyrics. In "Forever & Always," the strings are truly transporting: They take an otherwise lovely ode to romantic devotion and elevate it to something grandly, elegantly dramatic.

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Genre: Folk-Pop

Why We're Excited: Singer-songwriter Nicole Rodriguez, who records under the name Pearla, finds subtle ways to put a twist on gently drifting, introverted, low-key folk-pop ballads. On her first EP, 2019's Quilting & Other Activities, Pearla gives her soft ruminations a sense of sonic adventure and psychedelic swirl, even as her lyrics look inward and stare down her demons.

Hometown: Bristol, England

Genre: Folk

Why We're Excited: Throughout 2018's On Hold, Fenne Lily's quaveringly intimate voice recalls the early works of Sharon Van Etten, particularly in the way she layers her own voice during choruses that ache and swoon. That almost jarringly beautiful effect jumps out in a minimalist mix that's so stripped down, you can often hear fingers sweeping across guitar strings.

Hometown: Diyarbakir, Turkey

Genre: Global

Why We're Excited: A Kurdish musician who's performed at hundreds of weddings in Turkey, Tufan Derince now spreads collaborative and celebratory music from his new home base in the Netherlands. Derince plays a stringed instrument called an elektrobağlama — think of a long-necked, amplified lute — that lends his arrangements a springy sense of playfulness. In "Sultane," a song credited to Derince's bandmate Raman Dari, traditional Kurdish music gets a wild and danceable remix.

Hometown: London, England

Genre: Jazz

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

Genre: Global

Why We're Excited: Rema is an Afropop superstar with tens of millions of streams, a distinctive sound mixing pop and trap, a Barack Obama endorsement and at least one prominent magazine cover to his name — and he still hasn't yet released his full-length debut album. At 19, he resides at or near the forefront of a Nigerian music scene that's exploded in global stature, and it's no wonder: "Lady" is a twisty and charming, unmistakably youthful, hook-laden banger.

Hometown: Perth, Australia

Genre: Folk Pop

Why We're Excited: An Australian singer-songwriter with a gift for deadpan observation and deftly deployed guitar licks, Carla Geneve sneaks up on you: Her songs can feel like overheard conversations, but also she's got a keen instinct for just when and how to crank up the dramatic tension. She's only just released her debut EP, and Geneve has already locked down a pitch-perfect mix of booming peaks and seething near-silences.

Hometown: Santiago, Chile

Genre: Folk

Hometown: Sacramento, California

Genre: Folk

Why We're Excited: In the opening moments of "Real You," Tré Burt's sandy, lived-in voice recalls Wilco's Jeff Tweedy at his most ambling and approachable. But the songwriting lineage Burt follows extends considerably farther back, at least through Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and John Prine — Burt is actually signed to Prine's label and will soon join him on tour. Burt's own wryly thoughtful songs roll along with an easy, lo-fi charm that never undercuts their propulsiveness.

Hometown: Dunedin, New Zealand

Genre: Folk

Why We're Excited: When Nadia Reid moved from New Zealand to the U.S., she felt a deep sense of alienation and isolation — feelings that naturally bled into her beautifully, reverberantly melancholy music. Laura Marling is a fair reference point, but Reid leans harder toward the languid, sweetening the new Out of My Province with powerful, impeccably placed strings.

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Genre: Folk Pop

Why We're Excited: Nobody's Girl takes three hardworking veteran Austin singer-songwriters — BettySoo, Grace Pettis and The Voice alum Rebecca Loebe — and assembles them into a countrified folk-pop supergroup with a knack for choruses that soar. All three have found wide audiences as solo acts, but as a group, they form a harmony-rich Voltron that conjures a potent cocktail of joy, longing and defiance.

Hometown: Accra, Ghana

Genre: Pop

Why We're Excited: Bisa Kdei's spirited and playful highlife music has made him a star in his native Ghana — and marked him for crossover success as West African music gets its hooks into worldwide audiences. On 2018's luminous Highlife Konnect, Kdei collaborates closely with musicians from other African nations, in the hopes of expanding not only his commercial reach, but also his own musical boundaries.

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

Genre: Pop

Why We're Excited: Nigerian singer-songwriter Yemi Alade has become a major Afropop star in recent years, winning high-profile African music awards and topping 100 million YouTube views for her hit "Johnny." In 2019, her smooth and vibrant music crossed over to U.S. audiences with the help of Beyoncé, who gave Alade a feature in her song "Don't Jealous Me," from the Lion King-inspired companion-to-the-soundtrack The Lion King: The Gift.

Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Genre: Jazz

Why We're Excited: A go-to percussionist who's become a staple of Puerto Rican music — he spent a decade playing with Calle 13 and has popped up in Tiny Desk concerts twice, once with Bio Ritmo and once with Miramar — Hector "Coco" Barez never seems to stop moving. He's an educator, a musical ambassador, a busy session musician and, as of 2017, a solo artist whose joyfully infectious, endlessly varied debut album is titled El Laberinto del Coco.

Hometown: Berlin, Germany

Genre: Classical

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Billie Eilish, at just 18 years old, is already one of the world's biggest pop stars.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BAD GUY")

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has announced its 35th annual class of inductees, honoring six musical acts — Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G. and T-Rex — as well as veteran rock journalist, producer and artist manager Jon Landau.

The inducted musicians were chosen from a ballot of 16 finalists, which meant fans of Pat Benatar, Dave Matthews Band, Judas Priest, Kraftwerk, MC5, Motörhead, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren, Soundgarden and Thin Lizzy will have to wait at least another year for Rock Hall validation.

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