Ken Tucker

Ken Tucker is the pop music critic for Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

He also serves as editor-at-large at Entertainment Weekly, where his previous work netted him two National Magazine Awards.

Previously a film critic at New York magazine, Tucker's music criticism earned him two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards one in 2003 and the other in 2004.

Tucker is the author of Scarface Nation: The Ultimate Gangster Movie and Roasting Miss Piggy: 100 Things to Love and Hate About Television.



Wed June 8, 2011
Spotlight on Country

Brad Paisley: 'Country Music,' Defined

Brad Paisley.
Jim Shea Sony Music

Brad Paisley doesn't possess the most distinctive voice in country music, and his guitar solos exude a lot of arena-friendly rock 'n' roll flashiness. But he's become a huge country star on the basis of just this combination of aw-shucks ordinariness and ostentatious skill.

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Tue May 24, 2011
Music News

Raphael Saadiq: Paying Homage To Soul's Past And Future

Raphael Saadiq's fourth studio album is titled Stone Rollin'.
Jeff Vespa

Three years ago, Raphael Saadiq's The Way I See It was a neck-snapping collection of almost-perfect Motown-style soul. For his new album, Saadiq remains intent on making a new generation mindful of the great music of decades past.

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Tue May 10, 2011
Music Reviews

Loudon Wainwright III Looks Back At '40 Odd Years'

Lots of artists get entombed in box-set career retrospectives. Few lend themselves to the process as appropriately as Loudon Wainwright III does on 40 Odd Years, because his entire body of work — with a few exceptions like "Dead Skunk" — is about using his life to build his art.

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Fri May 6, 2011
Music Reviews

The Beastie Boys: Hip-Hop With A Dash Of 'Hot Sauce'

The Beastie Boys are all about noise. Their beats are big and booming. Their production style is intentionally fuzzy and frequently distorted. Their lyrics are the dense, articulate yammerings of wiseguys who will not get out of your face.

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Wed April 27, 2011
Spotlight on Country

Emmylou Harris: An Invigorating, Inviting 'Hard Bargain'

Emmylou Harris sings with a steadfast purity that can be starkly beautiful; it can also be coldly distancing. Over the years, her public image has coalesced around the idea of a serene singer-songwriter whose elegance and wisdom is signaled by her silver-gray hair. It takes a lot to get a rise out of Harris, but producer Jay Joyce has succeeded on Hard Bargain.

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Tue April 12, 2011
Music Reviews

Edwyn Collins: 'Losing Sleep' And Continuing Life

"I'm losing sleep, I'm losing dignity," Edwyn Collins sings in the title song of his new album, Losing Sleep. Powered by soul-music rhythms and sung in a tough, terse tone, Collins sounds impatient, eager to get on with his life. The music is the work of a man on a mission.

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Mon April 11, 2011
Music Reviews

The Smithereens' Sweet Nostalgia, With Fresh Variations

In the world of The Smithereens, women tend to be girls, who tend to be either saviors or destroyers of the singer's closed-in universe. With a lesser band of middle-aged American men deploying guitar chords and harmonies that assiduously evoke 1960s British Invasion pop, this could come off as stunted, even laughable. With The Smithereens, however, it's an achievement in a musical conservatism rendered joyously.

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Mon March 28, 2011
Music Reviews

'Middle Brother': Hand-Clapping Foot-Stompers

There's a singer-songwriter intimacy in many of the songs on Middle Brother, as though band members John McCauley, Taylor Goldsmith and Matthew Vasquez were sharing secrets and anecdotes and decided to set them to music.

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