Since December of 2014, NPR has entertained the lives of millions through the musical lens of NPR Tiny Desk concerts. Bringing in iconic artists such as; Tyler The Creator, Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, Florence and The Machine, and so many more, these concerts offer a pure vision into the creative minds of any performer that walks through their hallowed halls. However, because of the ongoing pandemic, NPR has had to create an alternate method for Tiny Desk. With artists no longer performing at the desk of All Songs Considered host, Bob Boilen in Washington, D.C. Tiny Desk has done the inevitable and created an even more intimate vibe by transforming into Tiny Desk Home Concerts. While each concert has its own flair and authenticity, listed below are what we deem to be the top 5.
- Tame Impala: A group notorious for their larger than life performances and out of this world light displays, Tame Impala manages to corral their fire breathing dragons, and give us a simple and authentic performance. Beginning with “Breathe Deeper”, the truest insight is provided for how these masters of indie-tech operate. Singer Kevin Parker sways back and forth to each beat while simultaneously mixing each note on a mixing board ahead of him, allowing the iconic Tame Impala sound to be formed. The groups performance shows that no matter where they are, they’re tight as ever and the sound is genuinely what carries them through. They’re in sync, together, and most of all having fun. Throughout each song, you feel as if you’re soaring through the clouds and eventually will land on a galaxy full of wonder and beauty. They perform 2 songs off of their 2018 album The Slow Rush, and their single “Patience.” Their performance is the ideal of Tiny Desk re-envisioned. You get to see a completely raw side to a group that normally performs in a larger-than-life manner, and because of this as the viewer, a level of comfort among the group is created. This is why they take the lead for Tiny Desk performers.
- Chloe X Halle: Coming in perched on a table that’s dressed with personal memorabilia supplied by their mother to give an authentic home feeling, and illuminated by a soft pink glow. The Bailey sisters give an enchanting performance full of graceful harmonies and laid back vibes. Chloe falls into the alto range while Halle leans to a soprano, the entangling of their voices is a divine arrangement. One picks up where the other left off, and they blend and synchronize so well that it almost feels as if you’re listening to a grand opera. Throughout their performance, you can’t help but want to grove around your home and sing along with the sisters. The pure joy and energy that the two radiate is something that just flows through the screen and leaps into your heart, making their performance memorable and a joy to watch every time.
- John Legend: Ever wondered what noise silk made? Well, look no further because John Legends Tiny Desk Home performance will answer that question. With the smoothest and sweetest voice, you can’t help but feel like every note is a piece of golden silk coming through, and dazzling all who see. Starting with “Ooh Laa” the song taps into a smooth jazz vibe while meshing with an undertone of classical. Although no one, besides the band, is around Legend manages to create a stage presences that is both engaging and calming. As he leads, you follow, having you sway when he sways and making you anticipate his every move with excitement because you want to know what’s next. As the performance comes to an end, Legend closes with a quicker tune “Bigger Love.” This catchy pop melody truly invites you into the love that legends feel and leaves you with a feeling of wholeness.
- Declan McKenna: Located in North London, and decked in glitter, McKenna continues to march on with his indie-pop sounds that carry a fiery political message. Starting off with the song “Daniel, You’re Still a Child” McKenna gives a powerful intro and lays out the foundation of the roaring sound that’s yet to come. McKenna is one who is not normally observed in the public eye, so to see him in an atmosphere this vulnerable is a real treat. He’s letting his mask down throughout the performance and baring himself. His energy is high and he is ready to roar on the beat. As the performance comes to a close and ends with Mckenna’s biggest song “Brazil” an epitome of Declan’s political songs, McKenna has laid out a full narrative of political theory, and his own evolution as a performer.
- The Flaming Lips: Performing in single unit plastic bubbles, The Flaming Lips truly take on genuine and creative visions for their performance. While their performance may not be as invigorating as some of the others, a genuine authenticity is captured. As the singer Wayne Coyne speaks to his bandmates, you truly feel as if you were a fly on the wall, listening to all the conversations. There are no filters, just pure emotions and because of this the largest amount of vulnerability is put on display.
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