Arts & Culture

Interviews and stories about art, culture, music, books, food / dining and sports.

The 62nd Grammy Awards nominations are here, and it appears to be Lizzo's year to lose.

The singer, songwriter, flutist and rapper was nominated across five of the night's top categories, including Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Pop Solo Performance and Best R&B Performance.

Lil Nas X was nominated for Best New Artist, Album of the Year (for his debut record, 7), and Record of the Year, where his Gen Z opus "Old Town Road" is up against Post Malone, Bon Iver, Swae Lee, H.E.R., Ariana Grande, Lizzo and Billie Eilish.

We know that not every mystery is a whodunit. Some are how-did-they-do-its, others why-did-they-do-its, and so on. But in Johannes Anyuru's unusual speculative mystery They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears, the question revolves around the very identity of a young woman known as Nour. (The book was translated from the Swedish by Saskia Vogel.)

City Scenes: Inside Milwaukee's Emo Revival

5 hours ago

It's amazing how one band can shape an entire scene's reputation. In the '90s, Milwaukee spawned one of Midwest emo's most celebrated bands, The Promise Ring, whose 1997 classic Nothing Feels Good landed at No. 3 in Rolling Stone's recent ranking of the 40 Greatest Emo Albums of All Time. But despite the outsize impact of one influential act, Milwaukee was never particularly an emo hotbed.

"I'm a wonder boy / I can't do nothing," the late avant-pop artist Arthur Russell laments on "Wonder Boy," amid stop-and-go piano and plonky vibraphone. "The poster was nailed to a tree and somebody tore it down / Bits of paper nailed to a tree — that's all I found." In part because his legacy was never fully in his own control, the image — taken from the first song of a new album — lives on as an inwardly critical fantasy, rather than the self-fulfilling prophecy it nearly became.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Seconds before we hit record, Snarky Puppy's bandleader, Michael League leaned in to ask if he could "do a little crowd work." I suspect he waited until the last second on purpose, but it's been easy to trust this band when they have an idea, judging by the three Grammy Awards they get to dust off at home after every tour run.

Just six years after the Disney film Frozen unleashed upon an unsuspecting populace the soaring power ballad "Let It Go" — a song that proved no mere harmless earworm, but instead a devastatingly memetic musico-epidemiological event, a tuneful tapeworm that proceeded to infect the world's theater auditions, cabaret acts, drag repertoires and (especially) car rides to and from your kids' swim lessons — its sequel Frozen II now lies in wait, gestating in its bowels another song of similar belty pandemic virulence that, this coming weekend, will secure itself a billion or so

Step into one of the nation's top art museums, and most of the works you'll see were made by men.

The Baltimore Museum of Art has decided to make a bold step to correct that imbalance: next year, the museum will only purchase works made by female-identifying artists.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

As public impeachment hearings continue, let's look ahead to tomorrow's witness. It's the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland. President Trump gave Sondland an unusual role in Ukraine policy. As part of it, Sondland urged Ukrainian officials to launch investigations so that military aid could flow. Like Trump himself, Sondland is a real estate developer who gravitated towards politics. As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, he wasn't always a fan of the president.

Presenting The Debutante Ball

20 hours ago

Debutante balls have been a thing for more than 400 years. Queen Elizabeth I first introduced the practice as a way to present her ladies-in-waiting as ready for marriage.

A Conversation With Susan Rice

20 hours ago

Former national security adviser and U.N. ambassador Susan Rice isn’t done talking about President Trump. And it seems President Trump isn’t done talking about her.

In 2006, as Russia was preparing to host the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, its parliament passed a law legalizing extrajudicial killings of accused "extremists" abroad.

"It was an extraordinary moment," BuzzFeed News journalist Heidi Blake says. "Even as Western leaders were sitting around the table with Putin in St. Petersburg, at that very moment, laws were being passed ... that enabled enemies of the Russian state to be murdered by Russian state agents on foreign soil with absolute impunity."

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Hosting an interview show means you don't want to ask silly questions. But sometimes, a silly or lighthearted question is a great way to learn something about a band, and that's what happened with Matty Gervais, Charity Rose Thielen and Jon Russell of The Head and the Heart when they visited for an audience session at World Cafe.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

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