I’m always on the search for new artists, but sometimes the music industry feels so proliferated with talent and new albums that it can be overwhelming to even know where to begin searching. I like versatility in my music preferences, and my playlists are always a mishmash of country, musical theater, rap, indie, pop, folk, and more. Even my “For You” playlists on Apple Music can get confusing — should they recommend me Maggie Rogers, Newsies or Kendrick Lamar?
I discovered NPR Tiny Desk Concerts on YouTube a few years ago, and my music listening has never been the same since. Here are seven incredible Tiny Desk Concerts you should watch, then check out more from the artists themselves using your favorite streaming device. You’ll fall into a YouTube black hole of musical genius, and you’ll definitely return with one or two new artists to add to your “must-see” list.
What a hilariously and refreshingly colorful group! You’ll be amazed by all the interesting instruments Superorganism makes out of everyday materials like apples and soda cans. Their vocals are great, and you have to get a kick out of how unphased the lead singer is during a song about prawns. Ok, but for real, don’t judge this group by their odd (but wonderful) first tune, check out their most recent album, it’s great. Watch their Tiny Desk Concert here.
Heads up, Superorganism is coming to Madison in May so you can see them for only $15 at the Majestic.
2. Jorja Smith
This U.K. artist has a great, beautiful voice, and you can feel her aurora through the screen— even Smith’s speaking voice puts me in a serendipitous state. The instrumentalists accompanying her are super talented and entertaining to watch too. Watch it here.
You will never see a group look like they’re having more fun yelling curse words behind a desk. Hobo Johnson is so expressive in this spoken-word, poetic-type rap. At any point, you’ll feel like this whole group could explode from an emotional outburst, but it’s oddly enjoyable. See what I’m talking about by watching them here.
You’ve probably heard him featured in songs by some of your favorite artists without even knowing it — Chance the Rapper and Mac Miller, for instance — but his own songs are so good and underrated. I love vibing to his Tiny Desk Concert. I would also like to mention that he also possibly has the greatest smile in the whole world.
5. Tom Misch
While he’s kind of an awkward performer (Tom Misch reminded me a little of a sadly uncoordinated kid in gym class, watch here if you need proof), as soon as I heard him I instantly felt guilty for any judgemental thoughts. His music is funky and fun and so well done. He’s definitely worth a listen.
6. Leon Bridges
Leon Bridges could be straight out of the 60s; he’s keeping soul alive. Even his style of dress is classic and polished. He’s almost impossible not to love, I dare you to try!
Saving my favorite for last, I couldn’t keep my jaw from dropping listening to Lianne La Havas. I actually think I have maybe never heard a better voice than this woman. She is gorgeous, and she might be the closest thing we have to an angel on earth. If you feel like falling in love, check her out.
Plus, while they aren’t new artists to you, I highly recommend watching Chance the Rapper, T-Pain, Khalid and Mac Miller’s Tiny Desk Concert videos. Mac Miller’s is especially powerful, being one of his final performances before his death last year. There’s something good for the soul about exploring new genres and artists, and NPR recommendations will not disappoint you.