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    ‘They Shot the Piano Player’ Review: Taking on a Bossa Nova Mystery

    The pianist Francisco Tenório Júnior, on tour in Argentina during the right-wing dictatorship of the 1970s, vanished. This animated feature picks up the trail.Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba’s “They Shot the Piano Player” is an astoundingly vibrant animated project, fitting for its subject matter: the history and legacy of Brazilian bossa nova told through the story of the disappearance and presumed death of Francisco Tenório Júnior, one of the genre’s most celebrated pianists and composers.The film, actually a documentary set in a fictional context, begins in 2010, with Jeff Goldblum voicing the made-up music journalist Jeff Harris, whose article on bossa nova in The New Yorker lands him a book deal and a trip to Rio de Janeiro to investigate the fate one of the genre’s most celebrated pianists.Unlike the last Mariscal-Trueba collaboration, the Academy Award-nominated Cuban drama “Chico and Rita,” the story at the center of “They Shot the Piano Player” is all too real. Tenório Júnior vanished in Argentina during the height of a military dictatorship known for erasing people who didn’t embrace its politics. Equally real, and vivid are the over 150 interviews that Trueba conducted for the film, with friends, family and colleagues of the pianist, some of whom are the best-known names in bossa nova history: João Gilberto, Caetano Veloso, Milton Nascimento and more.The interviews appear, largely unaltered, in animated form, and getting to hear these musicians remember Tenório Júnior in their own words against the backdrop of the film’s gorgeous art direction brings them more to life better than a standard live-action talking head interview ever could. Even something as simple as the painted Arizona sunset descending behind Bud Shank as he recalls seeing Tenório Júnior play adds extra depth to his words.Goldblum’s character works as a surrogate for Trueba, jetting across the world to get to the bottom of his story and enthusiastically asking questions. But his character is never as interesting as the tale he’s trying to tell, and his vocal interjections — when Jeff Harris becomes, unmistakably, Jeff Goldblum — can be distracting. The film’s most memorable moments, by far, are when it just lets the music play on.They Shot the Piano PlayerRated PG-13 for language and suggested violence. Running time: 1 hour 43 minutes. In theaters. More

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    7 Grammy Winners Worth Another Spin

    Hear songs by Laufey, Jason Isbell, Samara Joy and more.Laufey performing on the Grammys preshow on Sunday.Etienne Laurent/EPA, via ShutterstockDear listeners,I can hardly believe I’m saying this, but this year’s Grammys were … really good?The performances were almost uniformly excellent. Tracy Chapman, radiating joy and in fine voice, sang “Fast Car” publicly for the first time in ages, alongside a visibly reverent Luke Combs. (I wrote more about that moment here.) A regal Joni Mitchell sang “Both Sides Now” and made everybody cry. Billie Eilish and her collaborator brother, Finneas, absolutely nailed their performance of “What Was I Made For?” and showed everyone watching why their subsequent win in the song of the year category was so deserved.The wins were also pretty evenly spread. Yes, the universe’s current main character Taylor Swift took home the night’s top honor, album of the year, an award that she’s now won a record four times. But the person who took home the most Grammys this year (four) was someone who didn’t make it to the podium during the televised ceremony: Phoebe Bridgers, who during the preshow picked up three awards with her trio boygenius and one for a collaboration with SZA. The telecast also allowed some rising stars like Karol G, Lainey Wilson and Victoria Monét (who faithful Amplifier readers learned about in Friday’s rundown of the best new artist nominees) to make themselves known.For today’s playlist, we’re going to hear from some more of those slightly-less-than-household-name artists who took home Grammys this year. I chose two selections of my own, and I also asked my fellow Times pop critics Jon Pareles and Jon Caramanica to send me a few of their picks — a mix of jazz, folk, pop, gospel and more. Listen below to tracks from Laufey, Peso Pluma and Samara Joy, and check out the Bonus Tracks for more of our Grammy coverage.Don’t wash the cast iron skillet,LindsayListen along while you read.1. Laufey: “From the Start”The Icelandic singer and songwriter Laufey (pronounced Lay-vay) won the traditional pop vocal album category with songs like “From the Start,” which she also performed on the preshow. It’s a bossa nova that confesses to “unrequited, terrifying love” with absolute poise. PARELESWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Grammys 2024: How to Watch, Time and Streaming

    A guide to everything you need to know for the 66th annual awards on Sunday night.The 66th annual Grammy Awards, taking place on Sunday at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, is poised to be a big night for young women.SZA is the top nominee, with nine nods for her album “SOS,” which topped the Billboard 200 for 10 straight weeks. Taylor Swift, who rocked the entertainment world with her record-breaking Eras Tour, and Olivia Rodrigo, the 20-year-old singer-songwriter with a proclivity for rock, are both competing with SZA for the three major all-genre categories: best album, record and song. Joining them are a host of other female artists, including boygenius, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish and Victoria Monét. The sole male performer contending for the top three competitions? Jon Batiste.But the biggest winner of the night could be the musicians behind “Barbie,” Greta Gerwig’s meditation on what it means to be a woman today. The film’s soundtrack garnered 11 nominations across seven categories, with a mix of artists that includes Eilish, Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj and Sam Smith.This emphasis on female representation is notable because the Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammys, has been criticized in the past for failing to adequately recognize women. In recent years, the Grammys have worked to bring in a younger, more diverse membership, with the goal of making the voting process more transparent and fair.The awards show on Sunday will honor recordings released from Oct. 1, 2022 through Sept. 15, 2023. Here’s how to watch and what to expect.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Ana Tijoux’s ‘Vida’ Fights Sorrows With Joy

    On “Vida,” the Chilean songwriter celebrates the life force.The finale of “Vida,” the new album by the Chilean songwriter Ana Tijoux, is “Fin del Mundo” (“The End of the World”). She sings and raps, in Spanish, about dire expectations: war, pollution, drought, a collision with a comet. But as a techno-tinged disco beat rises around her, she cheerfully declares, “If the end of the world is coming, let’s dance naked together.”“Vida” (“Life”) is Tijoux’s fifth studio album and her first since 2014. She chose its title pointedly.“I have a very good friend who talks to me about how life is the best vengeance against death,” she said in a video interview from her apartment in Barcelona, where she relocated during the pandemic and recorded the album. “That makes so much sense, to have vitality and energy. I insist that it doesn’t mean that we live in a superficial place. It doesn’t mean that it’s not political. We are living in a bizarre moment. And there is nothing more political than defending life and defending humanity.”In the album’s first single, “Niñx” (“Little Girlx”), Tijoux urges her daughter, and all young women, to find strength in joy: “Life scares them,” she sings. “Do not lose the laughter.”Tijoux, 46, found an international audience with her second solo album, “1977,” which was released in 2010. It was named after the year she was born, in France, to Chilean parents who had gone into exile during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Living in Paris, Tijoux was drawn to the hip-hop she heard while visiting immigrant families from Africa with her mother, a social worker; she, too, felt like an outsider.“Even if I couldn’t understand the lyrics,” she said, “that kind of music, that culture, changed our life.”On “Vida,” Tijoux salutes 50 years of hip-hop in “Tú Sae’” (“Y’know”), joined by Plug 1 from De La Soul and Talib Kweli, who observes, “The root of community is unity.”Soon after the Pinochet regime ended in 1990, Tijoux returned to Chile with her parents. In the late 1990s, she established herself as a performer, rapping with the Chilean hip-hop group Makiza before going solo.The single “1977” multiplied her audience worldwide. It’s a quick-tongued, matter-of-factly autobiographical rap, backed by a vintage-sounding bolero, about growing up and finding her voice in hip-hop; it has been streamed tens of millions of times. In the United States, it was boosted by prominent placement in a 2011 episode of “Breaking Bad.”On “1977” and the albums that followed, Tijoux glided easily between rapping and singing. With her 2011 album, “La Bala” (“The Bullet”), she began collaborating with the producer and multi-instrumentalist Andrés Celis. He helped broaden her music across eras and regions, drawing on R&B, reggae, rock, electronica and multiple folk traditions along with far-reaching hip-hop samples.“We’re not super experts on any style of music,” Celis said in a video interview from his studio in Santiago, Chile. “So we’re used to blending everything in a genuine, almost naïve way.”They build all of her songs together. “She’s a very intuitive artist,” Celis said. “The style of working that we have is like, I bring something very simple — some chords, maybe a little melody, sometimes a bass line, whatever goes with the vibe, you know? And then she’ll say, ‘Yes, that’s what we have to talk about.’”Tijoux has often written about politics, feminism, resistance, solidarity and the predations of capitalism: songs like “Somos Sur” (“We Are the South”), a modal stomp about the silencing, strength and fearlessness of Africa and Latin America, which features the Palestinian rapper Shadia Mansour; and “Antipatriarca” (“Anti-Patriarch”), a feminist manifesto set to Andean flutes, guitars and drums.But after the release of her 2014 album, “Vengo,” Tijoux’s songwriting slowed. While she continued touring, she was also raising two children — Luciano, now 18, and Emiliana, 10 — and working on assorted collaborations. One was “Lightning Over Mexico” with Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and the Bloody Beetroots, which had Tijoux rapping angrily about murdered Mexican student activists. Another was “Almacén de Datos” (“Data Warehouse”), a reggaeton song with the Argentine songwriter Sara Hebe that pushes back on treating music as a commodity in the attention economy: “For a businessman, everything is a market,” Tijoux taunts.Between albums, events spurred Tijoux to write singles. They included “Pa’ Qué” (“Why”), a brisk salsa song, with the Puerto Rican rapper PJ Sin Suela, that mocked politicians downplaying Covid-19; “Rebelión de Octubre” (“October Rebellion”), a ballad that crescendos into an anthem praising protests in Chile and worldwide; and the hard-nosed rap “Antifa Dance.”In a statement with “Antifa Dance,” Tijoux wrote: “In the face of authoritarianism, imposition, discrimination, the implacable hatred of the other, we return to the word Art with all its force. That art onslaught with music, colors, that art that dances in response, as an organized movement of beautiful rebellion.”Some of the songs on “Vida” directly extend Tijoux’s sociopolitical concerns. “Oyeme” (“Hear Me”) is a stark, percussive rap and chanted melody that Tijoux wrote after seeing reports that Britain was housing migrant asylum seekers on a barge. “I always have news on in the morning,” Tijoux said. “And it was terrible and absurd once again. I was thinking about the parallel between that and the slave ships.”Another song, the somber “Busco Mi Nombre” (“I Search for My Name”), is about people who were arrested and “disappeared” by dictatorships in Argentina and Chile; it’s prefaced by spoken words from the grandmother of one Argentine victim. Tijoux wrote and sings it with iLe, the Puerto Rican songwriter who got her start with the activist hip-hop group Calle 13. They met more than a decade ago, sharing the stage at a concert in Brooklyn.“Years ago there weren’t so many female political figures,” iLe said via video from Puerto Rico. “It’s a difficult challenge to speak through songs, about things that you might be afraid to say. And it’s nice to feel that there are women who are transcending their own fears and just writing and making songs about what they feel they need to talk about. It’s risky, but it comes from an honest place. And I think Ana has done that from the beginning.”Much of “Vida” is purposefully upbeat — recognizing struggles and losses but looking beyond them. Tijoux wrote “Tania” in memory of her sister, who died of cancer in 2019; it starts as an elegy but turns into a celebration. “She was super funny, she had a lot of vitality,” Tijoux said. “So to make just a sad song would not be fair.”And in “Bailando Sola Aquí” (“Dancing Alone Here”), an Afrobeats track topped with Latin percussion, Tijoux sings, “I’m tired of this sadness, crying a river for you,” then declares, “I decided to be happy.”The album is filled with dance beats: funk, trap, cumbia, disco. “I’m a terrible dancer, but I love to dance,” Tijoux said with a smile. “I think the terrible dancers are the best dancers because everyone’s laughing at us on the dance floor. Professional dancers are not funny — you need a bad dancer to make the party interesting.“We can dance and fight at the same time,” she added. “They’re not opposites.” More

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    On ‘Orquídeas,’ Kali Uchis Gets All She Wants

    The fourth album by the Colombian American songwriter makes bliss triumphant.Kali Uchis basks in pleasure on her fourth studio album, “Orquídeas.” Make that pleasures: carnal, material, romantic, sonic, competitive and, if necessary, vengeful, all with a girlish nonchalance. The album begins with loops of laughter and ethereal oohs and ahs; it ends with Uchis thanking listeners with a “mwah” kiss. It’s an album of breezy confidence and sly ingenuity, easily moving among futuristic electronics, 1990s nostalgia and Latin roots.“Orquídeas” are orchids: the national flower of Colombia, where Uchis’s parents were born. Uchis — Karly-Marina Loaiza — was born and grew up in Virginia, but she made long visits to Colombia while growing up. Orchids are colorful, alluring, fleshy, delicate, demanding and coveted, just as Uchis has presented herself throughout her recording career. In her new songs, she’s an irresistible, knowing object of desire. “I make ’em beg for it,” she announces in the album’s opening song, “¿Cómo Así?” (“How So?”), singing, “If you come around here, you’ll never wanna leave.”Uchis, 29, has deliberately alternated between albums with lyrics primarily in English or Spanish, and “Orquídeas” is nominally her latest Spanish-language album. But now that she has built a worldwide audience, her new songs are fluidly bilingual; they casually switch between English and Spanish, sometimes in mid-phrase. “I get a lil bit crazy pero es no mi culpa,” she sings in “Me Ponga Loca” (“I Get Crazy”), adding “Es que soy apasionada.” (“It’s not my fault — it’s that I’m passionate.”)Uchis and her many songwriting and production collaborators draw on expertly seductive pop and R&B from past generations, often using 21st-century technology to extrapolate from the plush, whispery fantasies of 1990s R&B hitmakers like Janet Jackson and Aaliyah. Lavishly layered vocals nestle among glimmering electronic sounds and programmed beats, and on “Orquídeas,” her voice sounds completely untethered by gravity.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber?  More

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    12 Key Music Collections, From Future to the Who

    Whitney Houston’s gospel music, Future’s prolific mixtape run, a chunk of Joni Mitchell’s archives and a soundtrack of Brooklyn’s early discos arrived in new packages this year.Artists were eager to revisit the past in 2023 — some tweaking recent albums (like Taylor Swift), others revisiting long-dormant work in the vaults (like the two surviving Beatles). Boxed sets and reissue collections serve a different purpose, helping put catalogs and musicians into context, and bringing fresh revelations to light. Here are a dozen of the best our critics encountered this year.Julee Cruise, ‘Floating Into the Night’(Sacred Bones; one LP, $22)The absorbing, unconventional debut album from the deep-exhale vocalist Julee Cruise, who died in 2022, was produced by Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch; the three had previously collaborated on music for Lynch’s 1986 alt-noir film “Blue Velvet.” This batch of songs, released in 1989, plays as an extension of that fun-house mirror, lightly terrifying universe, with twisted 1950s melodies meeting destabilizing, plangent guitars meeting Dali-esque shimmers. “Falling” became the theme song for “Twin Peaks” in instrumental form, but its full vocal version is the essential one. Songs like that, “The Nightingale” and “Into the Night” feel, even now, sui generis — not exactly dream-pop or new age, but something utterly amniotic. And lightly harrowing, too. JON CARAMANICADeYarmond Edison, ‘Epoch’(Jagjaguwar; five LPs, four CDs, 120-page book, $130)Anna Powell Denton/JagjaguwarBon Iver didn’t come out of nowhere. Before he started that project, Justin Vernon was in DeYarmond Edison, a pensive, folky but exploratory band that made two albums before splitting up; other members formed Megafaun. DeYarmond Edison — Vernon’s middle names — delved into folk, rock, Minimalism and bluegrass, learning traditional songs but also experimenting with phase patterns. It made two studio albums and left behind other songs, including “Epoch.” This extensively annotated boxed set includes songs from Mount Vernon, DeYarmond Edison’s jammy predecessor, along with DeYarmond Edison’s full second studio album (though only part of its first), unreleased demos, intimate concerts, collaborations outside the band and Vernon’s 2006 solo recordings. It’s a chronicle that opens up the sources of a style getting forged. JON PARELESWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber?  More

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    Carlos Lyra, Composer Who Brought Finesse to Bossa Nova, Dies at 90

    When Brazilian musicians fused samba with jazz and classical influences in the 1950s and ’60s, he was among the first, and the best.Carlos Lyra, a Brazilian composer, singer and guitarist whose cool, meticulous melodies helped give structure and power to bossa nova, the samba-inflected jazz style that became a worldwide phenomenon in the early 1960s, died on Dec. 16 in Rio de Janeiro. He was 90.His daughter, the singer Kay Lyra, said the cause of his death, in a hospital, was sepsis.Alongside Antônio Carlos Jobim, Mr. Lyra was widely considered among the greatest composers of bossa nova. Mr. Jobim once called him “a great melodist, harmonist, king of rhythm, of syncopation, of swing” and “singular, without equal.”Mr. Lyra was part of a loose circle of musicians who in the 1950s began looking for ways to blend the traditional samba sounds of Brazil with American jazz and European classical influences. They often gathered at the Plaza Hotel in Rio, not far from the Copacabana beach, to discuss music and hash out ideas.One of those musicians, the singer and guitarist João Gilberto, included three of Mr. Lyra’s compositions — “Maria Ninguém” (“Maria Nobody”), “Lobo Bobo” (“Foolish Wolf”) and “Saudade Fêz um Samba” (“Saudade Made a Samba”) — on his “Chega de Saudade” (1959), which has often been called the first bossa nova album. Mr. Lyra released his own first album a year later, titled simply “Carlos Lyra: Bossa Nova.”We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber?  More

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    Chatting About the Best Songs of 2023

    Subscribe to Popcast!Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon MusicThe New York Times’s pop music critics have some overlap in their taste, but in their annual songs-of-the-year roundup, the differences truly reveal themselves. There are songs from across genres, of course. And naturally, across generations. But sometimes, a song isn’t a “song,” per se — it can come from a movie, or a TikTok, or a commercial, or anywhere else music is deployed. Everyone’s personal soundtrack is unique.That means tracks with pop sheen from Olivia Rodrigo and Central Cee, heartache from PinkPantheress and YoungBoy Never Broke Again, wind-instrument wildness from André 3000, and songs from “The Idol” and “Barbie.” Also featured: Noname, Yo La Tengo, Byron Messia, Kylie Minogue, Lankum and dozens more.On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about the most impressive songs of the year, the difference between a musical event and a song, and whether a best-songs list that excludes music from a critic’s best albums can be considered valid.Guests:Jon Pareles, The New York Times’s chief pop music criticLindsay Zoladz, a pop music critic for The New York Times who writes The Amplifier newsletterConnect With Popcast. Become a part of the Popcast community: Join the show’s Facebook group and Discord channel. We want to hear from you! Tune in, and tell us what you think at popcast@nytimes.com. Follow our host, Jon Caramanica, on Twitter: @joncaramanica. More