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Tiny Desks to Keep You Sane

By Pearce O’Neal
Music Journalist

With everyone staying inside and away from the outside world, people who normally spend their weekends at concerts or social events are probably getting a little stir-crazy right now. While nothing compares to the rush of being in the crowd at a real concert, National Public Radio (NPR) offers a worthy second-place option with their Tiny Desk Concert series. 

Tiny Desk was started in 2008 after two NPR employees left a concert frustrated that the crowd was too loud and made it difficult to hear the artist performing. They joked that the band should’ve just played at one of their desks, and boom–Tiny Desk was born. Since its creation, Tiny Desk has had over 800 artists, ranging from world superstars to smaller, lesser-known bands. 

One of the most recent guests was Harry Styles, who is definitely on the superstar side of the scale. Harry Styles delivers a soft and intimate performance, much different and smaller than his typical stadium stops on his world tours. 

Singing songs off his new album such as “Cherry” and “Watermelon Sugar,” Styles shows us a delicate and stripped-down version of them. Backed by his touring band, we still see the chemistry we would get from a stop along his tour, without having to be far away in the rafters. 

Another Tiny Desk worth watching is T-Pain. When you think of T-Pain, you think of being in the club dancing, not a private and close concert. T-Pain admittedly says so, joking that he didn’t think anyone was going to show up and that he has the autotune in his pocket. 

He is accompanied by his keyboardist and performs delicate versions of club hits like “Up Down” and “Buy U a Drank.” He sings his heart out, leaving those watching wondering why he ever used autotune in the first place. 

Finally, the Tiny Desk that is maybe most sentimental, is that of the late, great Mac Miller.  From August 2018, just a month before his death, Miller plays three songs from his album Swimming. 

He is accompanied by Thundercat, fellow musician and good friend the late Miller. The Tiny Desk concert brings more to the emotional aspect of Swimming and leaves viewers with a feeling of some sort of nostalgia for a peaceful time. This was one of Miller’s last live performances, adding to the tenderness.

With the current state of the world, NPR has transformed their in-office Tiny Desks to an at-home series, where the artists record themselves in their houses and then send them in. They are also reposting older Tiny Desks. There are far more performances than I have mentioned here, and they all deserve to be checked out.  You can watch all of them on NPRs YouTube channel

Featured image retrieved from Creative Commons.

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