Music

Like many awards shows, the Grammys are about more than just honoring artistic achievement: They're also about anointing ambassadors for a music industry that's forced to evolve as quickly and constantly as trends and technology mandate. Of course, the awards also attempt to represent dozens of far-flung genres, from traditional pop to EDM to country to jazz to Latin music to classical to rap and beyond.

After months of well-sourced rumors, the streaming service Napster (formerly known as Rhapsody) and another source have confirmed to NPR that Prince's records under Warner Bros. — which include the epochal classics 1999, Purple Rain, Dirty Mind, and Sign o' the Times — will be available to stream this Sunday, the day of the 59th Grammy Awards.

As the company wrote: "The rumors are true ... music fans rejoice!"

When the Los Angeles-based rock group Giant Drag released it's debut full-length, Hearts And Unicorns, in 2005, fans were immediately taken by frontwoman Annie Hardy's playful and fearless crush of the innocent into the profane. She intentionally subverted her image - pigtails with large, bashful eyes and an almost childlike voice - with brawny guitar noise and provocative songs like "You're Full of S*** (Check Out My Sweet Riffs)" and "YFLMD." (I'll let you look up that second one).

Our relationships with and access to music lie between rocks and hard places; the rocks that own it, the hard places that distribute it to us. Those relationships are constantly evolving, and to figure out what might come next, we've combed through the recent earnings statements of some of the largest record labels and tech companies to reveal how they're preparing for 2017 and beyond.

"The greatest stories ask the biggest questions," budding animation artist Alex Sopp replied when I asked about the video she's created for "Sunset Boulevard," a song from First, the upcoming album by the new music sextet yMusic.

Drake has topped the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry's (IFPI) annual list of best-selling artists worldwide, earning the umbrella group's "Global Recording Artist of the Year" award, buoyed in large part by the success of his 2016 album Views.

David Bowie, who died on January 10, 2016 just two days after the release of Blackstar, came in second on the IFPI's list. Prince, the list's other "legacy" artist, was ninth. The list tabulates all forms of sales, physical and digital, as well as sales from the entire catalog of the artists named.

The band is back together. This Is Spinal Tap's three stars and director have united to sue the movie's owner for $400 million.

February isn't exactly the best month, what with all the cold weather, limited daylight, copious awards shows, New England Patriots Super Bowl victories, and Valentine's Day. So you'd be forgiven for thinking, "The only thing that could truly articulate my pain is a band in which puppets sport eyeliner and sing a song called "I Am Sad And So Am I."

"Waiting 4 it," one Lady Gaga fan wrote on her Facebook wall before the Super Bowl halftime show last night. "Gaga, say some s***." The multiplatinum pop rabble-rouser's reputation as an advocate for LGBTQ rights, feminism and general freakery left her with a certain burden of proof as she took on America's biggest annual slice of family entertainment. Would she speak out about the need to preserve civil rights as a new administration already establishing a spotty record on that front reshapes the presidency?

With stories about politics and international affairs dominating the news cycle, it can be easy to miss what's going on in the world of music. To help with that, NPR Music has a Friday roundup of what was on its radar this week.

In a suit filed yesterday in the Central District of California, Calvin Cooksey — representing himself in the case — has accused Frank Ocean of libel over a blog post published on Ocean's Tumblr.

Ahead of a long string of dates with Kilo Kish — dubbed The Life Aquatic Tour — the Long Beach rapper Vince Staples has released a new track. "BagBak" is punchy piece of Detroit club music with gritty beats that sound like DJ Assault mining Kraftwerk for dirt.

In the first 45 minutes after it was posted, it had generated half a million tweets, topping out at 17,000 a minute. There have been, at the time of writing, at least 2,679 (now 2,680) news articles cumulatively written in less than a day about it — 840 of those written within an hour of its appearance, at 1:39 p.m. ET.

Jazz vocalist John Boutté feels he can no longer afford to live in his hometown of New Orleans. He's not alone. Rising housing costs are pushing many musicians and service workers — the backbone of New Orleans' tourism economy — further and further outside the city limits.

There's an electric thrill to Caddywhompus not heard in too many guitar and drum duos. Where others examine the extremes of the spare or the loud, Chris Rehm (guitar, vocals) and Sean Hart (drums) mine math-rock, frenetic punk and the bombastic end of pop to generate a signature, euphoric sonic boom.

Yoko Ono is reportedly working with producer Michael De Luca on a biopic about the life, relationship and activism she shared with John Lennon before his death on Dec. 9, 1980, writes The Hollywood Reporter. (That the artist retweeted a story on the project seems to validate the Reporter's... reportage.)

There's a music video that's been racking up millions of views for the last few weeks — and it comes from Saudi Arabia. NPR Music's Anastasia Tsioulcas describes the scene:

Well, you can't deny the title. Blondie has announced its 11th album, Pollinator, with lead single "Fun," a disco-heavy new wave track that recalls the Blondie of yesteryear, which was written by TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek.

Kristian Bush is one of the most successful artists in country music, both as a songwriter and part of the duo Sugarland. But his latest venture, Troubadour, is a musical — about country music in the 1950s, and a relationship between a star and his son.

When it comes to collaboration, Bush says he's open to just about anything — "If you ask nicely." That's how he and Atlanta playwright Janece Shaffer ended up connecting on the project.

Four days after its signing, President Donald Trump's executive action that temporarily bans travel from citizens of seven countries continues to make waves.

The music website Bandcamp will donate the money it earns from music sales that occur this Friday, Feb. 3, to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The move, which amounts to 15 percent of all dollars spent on bandcamp.com, was announced in a blog post Tuesday afternoon.

Ethan Diamond, Bandcamp's founder, writes:

For Brazilian vocalist Liniker Barros, it's almost impossible to avoid politics. As a trans black woman fronting one of Brazil's most compelling soul bands, Liniker E Os Caramelows, she says her mere presence is a statement.

Bob Dylan is about to release a triple album of classic songs. These are not his classics — Triplicate continues Bob Dylan's passion for making new recordings of the Great American Songbook.

Nick Hakim, sitting in the cold outside at the Songbyrd Cafe, on the flat stretch of a hill in Washington's Adams Morgan neighborhood, laughs when I say his new record sounds like it's being played back on an old 78.

Pages