How Prince Introduced Us to the “Minneapolis Sound”

From Polka to Punk-Funk, the Twin Cities Assimilated New Genres From Their Migrant Roots

The pop music genius Prince Rogers Nelson, better known to most of us as Prince, made his national television debut on American Bandstand in 1980. Performing “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” his first big hit in the United States, he gave the country its first taste of the Minneapolis Sound, an infectious blend of rock, R&B, funk, and New Wave that would become a significant force in American pop music during the 1980s, ’90s, and early 2000s. An astounded Dick Clark, struggling to interview the shy singer and guitarist …

La La Land’s Debt to Ethnic Musicals of Yore

Its “Burst-Into-Song” Style Echoes the Intimacy of Early Black, Mexican, and Jewish Productions

“Without a nickel to my name/ Hopped a bus/ Here I came …” So sings a young woman at the start of La La Land, the original musical film by …

We Are the World. We Are the Charity Single.

After the Orlando Shooting, the Musical Staple of 1980s Philanthropy Makes a Comeback

A few years ago I took on a research challenge: to listen to every charity single released in the United Kingdom between December 1984 and the end of 1995. I …

Cleveland Rocks, Even in the Dead of Winter

The City’s Unpretentious Music Scene Thrives Year Round, Under Bridges, on Porches, and Outside of the Country’s Most Famous Music Hall

In the middle of February, when the temperatures dip below freezing, Clevelanders are frequently found huddled together for warmth in one place: outside—yes, outside—under the crisp night sky, watching local …

America’s First ‘Indian’ TV Star Was a Black Man from Missouri

Stymied by Hollywood Racism, Korla Pandit Reinvented Himself as a Mystical Brahmin Pianist

Turning on the TV in Los Angeles in 1949, you might have come face-to-face with a young man in a jeweled turban with a dreamy gaze accentuated by dark eye …

A New Anthem for Bakersfield

The Town’s Next Iconic Song Will Be About Working Hard, Making Lifelong Friends, and Surviving Years Without Rain

The “Bakersfield Sound”—inland California’s answer to Nashville country music—traces its roots to the dusty streets of the Great Depression, when Okies headed West to find work in the oil fields. …