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Aparna Nancherla's 5 Favorite Tiny Desk Concerts

For Tiny Desk Playlists, we ask musicians, creators and folks we admire to choose the Tiny Desk concerts they've come to love. For this edition, comedian and actress Aparna Nancherla picks her five favorites.

Aparna Nancherla has been steady evolving from writer to stand-up comedian to live-action actress to voice actress, all while maintaining her memorable wit and wisdom. Her portrayal of BoJack Horseman's sister Hollyhock left us feeling seen and represented in a way that only a sweet, vulnerable horse with Nancherla's voice could do. We're big fans of Nancherla and were excited to learn Tiny Desk concerts have served as an important informant for her music taste lately.Maia Stern

Leikeli47 - This is the first TDC I ever listened to because I am very, very, very late to things! My partner showed me this one, and not only was I blown away by Leikeli47 — her music, her aesthetic (the mask!), and her whole deal — she was just so very much herself that her performance really stuck with me. I'm a sucker for how the musicians sound in between their songs and she has that ineffable self-possessed cool you read about in books. The fact that her backup band is dressed like TSA agents? C'mon!

Shamir - I actually had the immense honor of meeting Shamir at a benefit show, and let me tell you, he is just as endearing and amazing in person as in this Tiny Desk concert. I love this performance, too, because he's so up front about how nervous he is, and as someone who feels uncomfortable as a lifestyle choice and also has to perform in front of people, it really spoke to me. The Ross dressing room story is just the cherry on top.

Benjamin Clementine - Hi, late to the party? It's me again! My partner also showed me this TDC because it turns out I need informants for my music. Wow wow wow, Benjamin Clementine really catches you off guard. His piano playing alone is gripping and then he starts to sing, and you're like, "Oh, OK, I guess I'm utterly transfixed?!" A true original. It's almost like the audience doesn't need to be there at all, he's so immersed in the music.

John Prine - Obviously, his passing was one more grim removal in the horrific Jenga tower that was 2020, but what a legacy to leave behind. It's the case with so many great artists, but we're lucky to have them however long we get them. Thank you, John Prine. I'm a huge sucker for folk music, and needless to say, he's influenced a whole heck-ton (word I made up that means "a lot by FCC standards") of it.

Raveena - I actually discovered Raveena through TDCs, so thank you for that! I love how she creates a whole mood through her energy, her hand gestures, her voice, her wardrobe, her backup accompanists — and the mushrooms and flowers convince you there's no way she's of this realm. Her voice is like ambrosia and you can't help but get caught in her conjuring of an ethereal space of "softness ... and togetherness" out of darker and more painful elements. Also, the way she lets each bandmate get a little shine?! OK, role model.

Tiny Desks In This Playlist

Benjamin Clementine
John Prine

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Aparna Nancherla