Ann Powers

Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.

One of the nation's most notable music critics, Powers has been writing for The Record, NPR's blog about finding, making, buying, sharing and talking about music, since April 2011.

Powers served as chief pop music critic at the Los Angeles Times from 2006 until she joined NPR. Prior to the Los Angeles Times, she was senior critic at Blender and senior curator at Experience Music Project. From 1997 to 2001 Powers was a pop critic at The New York Times and before that worked as a senior editor at the Village Voice. Powers began her career working as an editor and columnist at San Francisco Weekly.

Her writing extends beyond blogs, magazines and newspapers. Powers co-wrote Tori Amos: Piece By Piece, with Amos, which was published in 2005. In 1999, Power's book Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America was published. She was the editor, with Evelyn McDonnell, of the 1995 book Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Rap, and Pop and the editor of Best Music Writing 2010.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University, Powers went on to receive a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of California.

It's easy to read too much into a hit song. Popular music is made that way: Its surface meanings are broad and inclusive, while its idiosyncrasies are vehement, upheld within a startling rhythm or a novel sample or a highly relatable voice. It's this mix of the familiar and the seemingly unique that allow for pop hits to reach millions of often very different people in ways that feel direct and personal. The two best-selling albums of 2016 so far — Drake 's Views and Adele 's 25 — exemplify...

Fan fervor is one of the basic building blocks of rock and roll, but it's difficult to recall a rock star as tenderly beloved as is Bruce Springsteen in 2016. There are bigger legends who've evinced louder screams, like the baby boomer Boss's own early inspirations, Elvis and The Beatles . There are some who've earned stronger critical accolades, like Bob Dylan , whom Springsteen has called "the father of my country." There are those who own the current moment more dramatically, like Beyoncé ...

The wait for a new Frank Ocean album is over — sort of. Late Thursday night, the reclusive singer unveiled Endless , a starkly minimal multimedia project that does indeed feature new music, but leaves many other questions unanswered. With listeners everywhere processing Ocean's latest creation in real time, w e asked our NPR Music's Jason King and Ann Powers to share their first impressions. Jason fired the first volley: Hear his chat with All Things Considered at the audio link, and read on...

Natalie Maines took one look at the wildly cheering fans in Nashville's Bridgestone Arena Wednesday night and knew just what to say. "I like what you're wearing," she coyly remarked. It felt as if the singer could see every Southwestern-print skirt, pair of fringey ankle boots and vintage "Cowboy Take Me Away" t-shirt in the packed arena. This is what made a seemingly innocuous remark hit the mark sweetly and succinctly: Maines knows exactly who is making the first headlining Dixie Chicks...

Very few musical gatherings during the crowded summer festival season have been going on as long as CMA Music Fest, which launched under the name Fan Fair in 1972 and now descends upon Nashville just after the heat and humidity set in each June. One of the secrets to its longevity is that it's always been a place where country fans can encounter artists up close; folks who get a bit of face time with their favorite artists, maybe even a hug, are prone to keep coming back. These days, most of...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fi0q0O4V5Qs When writers try to describe the music of the metamorphic torch singer Anohni , they reach for words like " liminal " and " ethereal ," recognizing that its effect is enchanting, opening up new worlds of identity and consciousness. In The New Yorker , Hua Hsu recently compared her voice to Boy George, Nina Simone and "what I imagine a radiant, healing crystal sounds like" — which, setting aside the phrase's whiff of anti-New Age snobbery, is actually...

Somewhere in the back of my closet is a torn photograph from a party in Seattle in 1982. Dig if you will the picture: It's me, in a second-hand chiffon dress that (though the photo is black and white) I'm sure is violet. My hair is a two-toned mass of strawberries and cream, my neck's draped in my mom's big costume pearls; a bracelet of pretend diamonds dangles from my wrist. This is an ordinary look for a college girl with a nightlife obsession in 1982. I'm gazing into a mirror; behind me is...

Gay Glam Comes To HBO

Apr 4, 2016

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Lp_e4wUnz4 HBO's Vinyl offers plenty of incentive for pleasurable hate watching, from its macho take on gender relations to its sub- Sopranos murder subplot. For music mavens, the glee and groans are prompted by the show's haphazard treatment of the history of rock and roll — and hip hop and disco and Donny Osmond. The fake cameos from the likes of Alice Cooper and Gram Parsons are one source of fun; then there are the show's amalgamated "original" characters,...

The most meme-able moment of Michelle Obama's keynote even t at yesterday's South by Southwest conference and festival came when she responded to a question from her friend Queen Latifah by crooning a few bars of the Motown weeper "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday." The novelty of a first lady singing (and doing so well enough that Latifah suggested she make a single soon) was charming, if not entirely fresh; after all, Obama has rapped with Jay Pharoah, danced to Beyonce and lip...

I am a Bowie girl. Not literally: I'm a little too young to have swiped my face with glitter and run out in lime-green platforms to see David Bowie storming through America in 1972 and 1973 with the Spiders from Mars, when he sent queer and alien dispatches across a heartland primed for them by Stonewall and women's lib and the sexual revolution but also feeling the slap of the Silent Majority as the Nixon era lumbered on. On that tour, Bowie tangled into all kinds of strange positions with...

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