NPR Music

Top 10 Top 40 For 2014

Dec 22, 2014

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Once a pop artist has been working long enough, the Christmas album feels like an inevitability. Soul singer Anthony Hamilton wanted to try it out, but he was wary of falling into cliché and repeating the formulas that have shaped holiday records for years.

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Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Christmas is the time of year for carols, presents, festive cheer, and if you were a member of The Beatles Fan Club back in the 1960s, it was the season for a special edition flexi-disc from John, Paul, George and Ringo.

It's been a big month for M. Ward. He just released a new album with Zooey Deschanel (as She & Him), and he's reissuing his much-loved 2005 solo breakthrough Transistor Radio on vinyl with a few bonus tracks.

Ward's fourth studio album, Transistor Radio, solidified his reputation as a major talent, so it was a thrill to host a live performance of its songs. From his recent visit to KCRW, M. Ward performs "Hi-Fi" here.

John Schneider and Tom Wopat have been friends ever since they met in the late 1970s as costars on The Dukes of Hazzard. Now, the men who played mischievous cousins Bo and Luke Duke have reunited — but not for a new season of the show. As Wopat explains, the pair has long nurtured a different creative partnership that never played out onscreen.

We've been privileged in these last few months to share the stories of many Americans, some of them famous, but most of them not. We came together through some avenues we know well — books, music and theater. Sometimes, we found each other through pathways that have only recently become a big part of our lives, such as the #BeyondFerguson hashtag that brought so many young people to an August community meeting in that city. Our New Year's Resolution is to keep these honest and vital conversations going. We are going there.

She came to the Tiny Desk a little unsure, and left singing "West Memphis" with intensity and passion. Lucinda Williams has a voice like no other, and it shines in these intimate moments.

Williams is on a roll with a new double album, Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone, which is filled with fresh and beautiful songs — all this from a songwriter known for working at a deliberate pace. Hearing her perform these new songs with her brilliant band was a rare and exciting treat.

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