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Stephen Thompson

It's been a hot week full of court documents and news drops. And now, we're ready for a calmer and cooler break with time to breathe. And fortunately, we've got recommendations for podcasts, binge-able television and good reading for your holiday weekend.

When we asked our trusty Pop Culture Happy Hour listeners to vote for the Best Muppet, we knew they'd come through. Over 18,000 votes were cast; over 150 different Muppets received votes.

Yes. Some brave, beautiful, misguided soul voted for H. Ross Parrot. As Best Muppet. That is a thing that happened.

The 2021 Grammys somehow survived a COVID-inspired six-week delay, not to mention angry diatribes from The Weeknd, and put together a seamless, entertaining, music-packed telecast that also proved utterly, bafflingly infuriating. How can all that be true? Read on!

Taylor Swift has kept famously busy in pandemic times: On the heels of 2019's Lover and a 2020 Netflix documentary, she's released two albums in the past seven months alone, all while fighting a public battle for control of her past recordings. Now, she's got another announcement: She's releasing a rerecorded and expanded version of her 2008 album Fearless in April, titled Fearless (Taylor's Version).

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Most of us spent 2020 in a holding pattern — if we're lucky — but Phoebe Bridgers had a massive yea

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2021 was supposed to be better than 2020, and right now, that's looking questionable. But there are some good things coming our way, like new music.

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We've been talking about the politics of President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet choices - now a very different review of the work of one particular member of the incoming Biden team. Here's NPR's Stephen Thompson with that.

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This year's interminable election season has helped spawn an outsize assortment of frequently vital protest music. Late Tuesday, as part of Stephen Colbert's election-night special for Showtime, Arcade Fire premiered the first big post-election protest song of 2020.

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Tracy Chapman didn't take long to release her masterpiece.

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It's been nearly five years since Adele released her blockbuster Grammy-festooned album 25 — so you'd

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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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.

Eddie Van Halen, the guitarist and songwriter who helped give the rock band Van Halen its name and sound, died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. He was 65.

His death was announced by his son, Wolf Van Halen, on Twitter.

"I can't believe I'm having to write this," the statement said, "but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning. He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift."

Awards shows often take place amid distractions, from natural disasters to civil unrest to the aftermath of a high-profile death. Sunday night's MTV Video Music Awards had to coexist with all three, not to mention a worldwide pandemic that made it impossible — and, in New York City, illegal — to assemble a live audience.

How did it go? Here are 10 takeaways.

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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.

When Jason Molina died in 2013, the 39-year-old singer-songwriter left behind a mountain of works: wrenching solo albums, released under his own name and as Songs: Ohia, as well as louder electric recordings with his band Magnolia Electric Co. In 2007, Molina had amassed such a backlog of unreleased songs that he by

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!

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.

In this era of social distancing, few celebrities have carved out a social media presence as appealing as those of Emily Blunt and John Krasinski. They're married, so they get to share their isolation — and they've been filling the time with a kindhearted weekly YouTube show they call Some Good News.

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.

Adam Schlesinger, one of the most prolific and decorated songwriters of his generation, died Wednesday from complications caused by COVID-19. He was 52.

His death was confirmed to NPR by his lawyer, Josh Grier.

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Conor Oberst has kept busy since the last Br

Hometown: London, England

Genre: Jazz

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