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Teenagers and popularity. Social status. Where you stand in the eyes of your peers and in your own mind. Letting others determine your sense of worth. That warped, cruel, numbered list of My Rank on The Ladder.

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020: Esperanza Spalding, ‘I Know You Know’

I had the very good fortune to see Esperanza Spalding perform last week. Even though her hair was bandana’d, she was a knockout. Here’s a piece I wrote a while back about her, her music, sexuality in female performers, and a quirky taxonomy of people who make music with their voices.

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114: Luciana Souza, ‘Morrer de Amor’

‘Morrer de Amor’ as sung by Luciana Souza – the lyrics of this song are in a language I don’t understand, and I know almost nothing about its background. But the rendition is of such utter beauty and unspeakable perfection that its emotional eloquence transcends any need for explication. I’m just going to turn off my analytical brain, close my verbose mouth, and hope that you’ll be as moved by it as I am.

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194: The Rolling Stones, ‘Not Fade Away’ (1964)

My buddies Vocal Line are going to back The Stones on stage in Copenhagen. While pretending to not be jealous, I remember The Stones as I saw them on their first tour of the US, in 1964. You can’t always get what you want, but that memory does Not Fade Away.

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191: The Fleetwoods, ‘Mr Blue’

Nobody talks about The Fleetwoods anymore. In my eyes, that’s a tragedy, because so often when I’m feeling like Mr Blue their songs come softly to me. They were the first group to have two records top the Billboard Hot 100 in a single year! No one can take that away from them. I hope no one would want to.

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189: Choir of Young Believers, ‘Hollow Talk’ (Nordic Noir TV)

Why do I think Nordic music is so fine? Because it’s on a continuum with the world outside.
And why am I infatuated with dark, murky, gloomy, angst-ridden, terrifying Nordic Noir television?
Are you kidding?

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188: Imogen Heap/Vocal Line, ‘Let Go’

In which we discuss Leo Da Vinci, Finnish surf jazz, my futile struggle to keep up with the music world, the great Danish rhythm choir Vocal Line, and their treatment of Imogen Heap’s (Frou Frou’s) Pinteresque ‘Let Go’. Oh yeah, and magic gloves.

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187: Trombone Shorty, ‘Hurricane Season’

In which we talk about “The Making of SoTW”; tripping over fire hydrants; a 1931 Madagascarian torch singer; John Keats’ ‘Ode to a Nightingale’; kissing with your eyes closed; and Trombone Shorty, a young New Orleans practitioner of ‘supafunkrock’ – an amalgam of rock, hip-hop, neo-soul, jazz and funk.

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