A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Dan Whenesota of Inver Grove Heights:
1 The audition of the NFL Players Choir, "America's Got Talent." Come for the initial performance of "Lean on Me." Stay for the part where Simon Cowell asks them, without warning, to attempt it a cappella. Its beauty will move you in more ways than one. Former Viking Bryant McKinnie is one of the singers.
2 "Story of Their Songs," Reelz. The show is about popular songs as opposed to a band's journey from beginning to end. This summer brought new episodes on tunes by Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Poison, Van Halen and Alice Cooper, among others.
3 The music of "Yellowstone." Andrea von Foerster is the award-winning musical supervisor of this Paramount show. Not only does the soundtrack she chooses have as much heart and intensity as the action on screen, it often introduces me to music I've never heard and want to hear more of — such as singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham, who also plays Walker on the show.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:
1 "Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song." Part biopic and part documentary on a long-simmering song "Hallelujah," this film has fascinating footage of the complex Cohen talking over the years (but precious little about his family life) and other people talking about "Hallelujah" (John Cale, Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, Brandi Carlile and strangely Eric Church). Far from a well-done film, it is still worth watching for fans of Cohen and/or the "Shrek"-boosted song.
2 "Wicked," Orpheum Theatre. The Broadway warhorse is back with a splendid Elphaba in Lissa DeGuzman. She crushes it on the showstopper "Defying Gravity" and breaks your heart on the ballad "I'm Not That Girl." She might make you forget Idina what's-her-name.
3 Pokey LaFarge, the Dakota. The delightfully quirky entertainer charmed with his vintage-sounding originals, pliable voice, expressive guitar, genuine personality and easy humor. Highlights: Cole Porter's "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" (with his scatting trumpet) and galloping country ditty "Mr. Nobody."
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