Last week, All Songs Considered hosts and NPR music editors Bob Boilen and Stephen Thompson commemorated the 150th installment of NPR's "Tiny Desk Concert" series. These concerts, held at Bob Boilen's desk in NPR's office bullpen, typically consist of three songs sung without microphones and with spare accompaniment, in front of NPR's employees, who sit in a semi-circle just feet away from the musicians. They are as intimate as any concert you are ever going to see broadcast. Clips of ALL 150 CONCERTS are now available on YouTube.
Some of my favorite groups, like Phoenix and Neko Case, but I most enjoy the concert series for the way in which it exposes me to artists to whom I have never - and probably otherwise would never - listen. One such singer is Adele. I've never disliked Adele; it was more that I was never really consciously exposed to her music; it never seemed like my sort of thing. I probably would never have listened to her without the Tiny Desk concert series, but . . . man. At the risk of throwing away years of hard-earned bookworm hipster douchebag credibility, Adele can really sing. Her voice is a magnificent instrument - even without a microphone, she basically blows the ears off of everybody in the audience. Few singers have pipes like hers; she is in the rarefied company of Neko Case and Alicia Keys. Like Amy Winehouse, her songs have callbacks to classic soul, but without being self-consciously retro. Basically, I think this video will charm your pants off.