NPR Music's Top 20 Songs Of March
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Music affords an escape, takes us back in time to reflect on the present, mirrors our aches and joys and offers serenity. As relentless news about the coronavirus continues, these songs were gifts during difficult times.
This month, that included one of many disco bops from Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia, an industrial-metal anthem by Code Orange and Kelsea Ballerini's thoughtful country ballad about a divided America.
Below you'll find an alphabetized list of NPR Music's top 20 songs of March 2020. Be sure to check out our top 11 albums from the month, too.
Clem Snide, "Roger Ebert"
Eef Barzelay's stirring remembrance of the late film critic Roger Ebert suggests this mysterious human experience – this mortal world – is not what it appears to be. — Robin Hilton
Code Orange, "The Easy Way"
Industrial electronics glitch and pulse in this soaring, metallic anthem calling out those who take the past most-traveled. — Lars Gotrich
Dua Lipa, "Good in Bed"
With fun and unexpected flourishes, Dua Lipa reimagines the mid-2000s piano-pop jaunt with a wink towards saucy jazz standards. — Cyrena Touros
HAIM, "The Steps"
Love is messy and so is this dusty garage-rocker from LA's sunny sisters. Danielle Haim leans into that baaaaby like her life depends on it. — Lars Gotrich
Hayley Williams, "Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris"
Hayley Williams' skittering, botanical tribute to choosing cooperation and self-love over external comparison sagely enlists the help of boygenius, a supergroup whose very existence echoes the same thesis. — Marissa Lorusso
Jacaszek, "November Early"
With its clipped opening – like a distant radio signal crackling – "November Early" slowly intensifies with strings, keys and treatments, offering another spectacular fever dream from Poland's premiere electro-acoustic composer. — Tom Huizenga
Kelsea Ballerini, "Half of My Hometown (feat. Kenny Chesney)"
America feels divided in so many ways; this tender ballad from one of country's most thoughtful young stars considers how those divisions play out within one person's heart, and how to bear them. —Ann Powers
Kenny Barron/Dave Holland Trio, "Without Deception"
Two NEA Jazz Masters — Barron, a pianist, and Holland, a bassist — bring easy erudition to Without Deception. Barron's title track is a smart, Monk-ish swinger. — Nate Chinen, WBGO
Kim Jinmook, "Misty Mountain/Sarod Sanjo"
In the early '90s, Kim Jinmook spearheaded a series of collaborations between traditional Korean and Indian musicians, discovering that a distinct, uncanny valley of expression lay between the two practices; ineffable, deep and arresting. — Andrew Flanagan
Lakecia Benjamin, "Om Shanti"
An Alice Coltrane chant turned Afrofuturist soul jam, with Benjamin's saxophone and Meshell Ndegeocello's bass backing Georgia Anne Muldrow's authoritative vocal. Peace, meet Power. — Nate Chinen, WBGO
Lucinda Williams, "You Can't Rule Me"
Powered by Stuart Mathis' gutbucket guitar, this politicized declaration of independence from Americana music's leather-jacketed queen is the Rolling Stones song we didn't know we needed. — Ann Powers
Meredith Monk & Bang on a Can All-Stars, "Memory Song"
Propelled by tinkling chimes and gentle oscillations, this ode to remembering planet earth ("trees," "coffee," "candlelight"), from Monk's dystopian opera The Games, strikes a surprisingly pleasant tone, closing with a cacophony of caterwauling animals. — Tom Huizenga
Mickey Guyton, "What Are You Gonna Tell Her?"
The most powerful feminist and anti-racist song by a country artist in recent years is a cry of the heart by a remarkable singer and writer who deserves to be a full-on superstar. — Ann Powers
R.A.P. Ferreira, "Noncipher"
The Wire andOutKast's Aquemeni get tangled up in a jumbled jazz, boom-bap non-sequitur that somehow rings true when little else does right now. — Lars Gotrich
Roger Eno & Brian Eno, "Spring Frost"
"Spring Frost" opens brothers Roger and Brian Eno's Mixing Colours, an ambient album perfect for these times. — Bob Boilen
Self-quarantine allows a lot of time for thinking about old wounds, as in "Dolerme," a long exhale grieving the loss of an old flame's equal investment in love and pain. — Stefanie Fernández
Swamp Dogg, "Billy"
Still in great, soulful voice, the 77-year-old Jerry Williams Jr. offers a heartrending country-soul weeper about a father mourning his lost wife. If you like classics like "Patches," you'll love this. — Ann Powers
Tineke Postma, "In the Light of Reverence"
Dutch saxophonist Tineke Postma has a modern ear, and on this flowing ballad she brings out the best in peers like pianist Kris Davis and trumpeter Ralph Alessi. — Nate Chinen, WBGO
Waxahatchee, "St. Cloud"
In a flurry of turning pages, Katie Crutchfield chooses forgiveness, delicately preserving an image of her past self as a young woman ablaze with promise. — Cyrena Touros
Yael Naim, "Daddy"
On this delicate and heartbreaking lullaby, the Israeli-French artist reflects on her father's death. "I'm trying my best," she sings, as the tears begin to fall. — Robin Hilton
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