Marissa Lorusso

There's a myth about self reflection: that it leads to self-love; that gaining an understanding of ourselves always brings peace. Perhaps that's true in the long term. But sometimes when we go looking for ourselves, we don't always like what we find.

Last year, NPR Music issued a correction to the history of popular music with our list of the 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women. This year, we sought to capture a new canon as it's forming with our list of The 200 Greatest Songs By 21st Century Women+.

In 2014 I listened to "Dancing On My Own" by Robyn every day for 24 straight days. I wasn't alone; four of my friends did it, too. We were on a road trip, driving from Massachusetts to the west coast, down through California and back again. Someone put Robyn on the car stereo the first night of our trip, on a whim. This was four years after the song came out — just enough time for it to have faded into that somewhere between short- and long-term memories. I had maybe listened to the song a handful of times in the intervening years.

In 2017, NPR Music published a list of the 200 Greatest Albums Made By Women. The list, selected by women from across the public radio system, launched our series Turning the Tables, which aims to radically change how we talk about the history of popular music.

When Ratboys' Julia Steiner wrote "Figure," she did so from a place of pain.

"I wrote 'Figure' in the middle of the night in my bedroom a few years ago," she tells NPR Music, "and for me the song was a way to air all of my disparate frustrations and fears in one place."

It's a truth universally acknowledged that if it's pink, it'll likely be marketed exclusively to girls. (And, in that case, it'll probably cost more.) You may be tempted to think that fate has befallen our favorite pink drink, fretfully wondering: Is rosé just for women?

Netflix has greenlit a Dolly Parton anthology series, set to premiere in 2019, the company announced today. Each of the eight episodes will be based on one of Parton's songs, with the Emmy award-winning singer-songwriter appearing in select episodes and executive producing the series.

"As a songwriter, I have always enjoyed telling stories through my music," Parton said in a statement. "We hope our show will inspire and entertain families and folks of all generations."

San Francisco-based Pllush makes hazy dream-pop that pairs emotionally wrought lyrics with maxed-out shoegaze guitars. The band has developed a dense, harmony-rich sound over the course of several releases — all, up until now, under the name Plush. For the release of Stranger to the Pain, its forthcoming album, the band has added the second l to its name, honed its pop melodies and sharpened its guitar-heavy sound.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

The 2018 Tiny Desk Contest is now open! You can now submit your video via the entry form on our website. We'll be accepting entries through March 25 at 11:59pm EST.

When you're ready to enter, you'll need to:

  • Film a video of you (or your band) performing an original song in front of a desk (any desk).
  • Upload that video to YouTube.
  • Submit that YouTube video via our entry form.

"Must Be Nice," the first single from Chicago band Varsity's forthcoming album Parallel Person, has a title that comprises a double meaning. The title phrase is habitually "bandied around sarcastically," says singer and keyboardist Stephanie Smith. But she says it can also be an ultimatum, as in: "I must be nice in order to be liked/noticed/not be considered a b****."

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


Philly art-rock group Palm might look like a normal band: two guitars, a bass, drums, a couple singers. But if you listen to Rock Island (or really anything else the group has released), it becomes clear that any passing resemblance to normality is purely accidental.

The Philly art-rock band Palm seems to delight in being collaboratively weird. Bandmates Kasra Kurt and Eve Alpert bury their lyrics in singsong melodies and fractured, jittery guitar parts — both of which appear in constant, if antagonistic, communication with each other. The frenetic songs are made slightly more surefooted by bassist Gerasimos Livitanos and drummer Hugo Stanley, but the rhythm section's confrontational energy often undermines its own attempts at stability.

"The value of Death," wrote songwriter Sean Bean, of Boston's Bad History Month, in a dense, intimate introduction to new album Dead and Loving It, "is that it's an infallibly reliable fixed point on the horizon to navigate by when I'm lost at sea."

Some of us are verbal processors, who feel like certain vexing issues just can't be solved until we've exhaustively enunciated every angle. The hope is that the act of explaining a problem aloud will draw out a perspective previously unseen; sometimes you just have to start a sentence to see where it will lead. On "Let Down," from the four-member Gingerlys, Jackie Mendoza and Colin O'Neill's call-and-response vocals feel like two sides of a conversation with the self, an attempt to sketch the contours of tangled relationship in search of a way out.

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