Ken Tucker

Ken Tucker reviews rock, country, hip-hop and pop music for Fresh Air. He is a cultural critic who has been the editor-at-large at Entertainment Weekly, and a film critic for New York Magazine. His work has won two National Magazine Awards and two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards. He has written book reviews for The New York Times Book Review and other publications.

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

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Music Reviews
9:54 am
Wed January 9, 2013

'Nashville' Soundtrack Stands On Its Own

Connie Britton (pictured) and Hayden Panetierre star as country singers of different generations on the ABC series Nashville.
Courtesy of ABC

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 1:08 pm

"Telescope," the fictional hit single by the fictional country star Juliette Barnes on Nashville, is sung by the actress who plays Juliette, Hayden Panetierre. If it didn't become a real-life hit when the song was released a few months ago to country radio stations, it wasn't for lack of catchiness, courtesy of producers T-Bone Burnett and Buddy Miller.

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Best Music Of 2012
11:03 am
Tue December 18, 2012

Ken Tucker's Top 10 Albums Of 2012

Dan Monick

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 8:25 pm

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Music Reviews
12:40 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

Ke$ha: A 'Warrior' In Search Of Legitimacy

Ke$ha's new album is titled Warrior.
Yu Tsai Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 3:53 pm

Ke$ha uses a dollar-sign instead of an "s" in the middle of her stage name. It's one of those gestures that's meant to bait her detractors — suggesting before anyone else does that she's only in it for the money. It turns out, though, that like pop stars ranging from Madonna on back to Chuck Berry, Ke$ha wants it both ways: mass-audience success and artistic acknowledgment. For Ke$ha, that's what her album title Warrior means: She's fighting a war on multiple fronts.

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Music Reviews
12:17 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Tracey Thorn: 'Secular Carols' For The Holidays

Tracey Thorn, famous for her work in Everything but the Girl, has a new solo album of seasonal tunes called Tinsel and Lights.
Edward Bishop Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 1:24 pm

Tracey Thorn's interpretation of "Maybe This Christmas," by the Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith, is typical of her new holiday album, Tinsel and Lights: It's simply arranged, emphasizing Thorn's lovely, delicate voice and bolstered by a firm intelligence; it avoids the fatty treacle that weighs down lots of Christmas albums. Tinsel and Lights mixes familiar songs with new ones, such as the title song written by Thorn.

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Music Reviews
1:34 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

'Buddy And Jim': Friends In Life And Songwriting

Musicians and friends Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale team up on a new album of country duets called Buddy and Jim.
Michael Wilson photo/Paul Moore design Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 5:04 pm

Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale are singer-songwriters who've each written hits for country and rock acts, and have enjoyed extensive solo careers as performers and producers. Buddy and Jim is their first collaboration, a mixture of original songs and covers from earlier decades of country, rock, folk and soul music.

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Music Reviews
11:35 am
Wed November 14, 2012

An Unlikely Tribute: Jamey Johnson Covers Hank Cochran

Jamey Johnson's new album pays tribute to songwriter Hank Cochran.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 4:41 pm

Jamey Johnson, one of the most popular country singers of recent years, has just released an album titled Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran.

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Music Reviews
11:22 am
Fri November 9, 2012

Cody ChesnuTT Contains A Universe On 'Hundred'

Cody ChesnuTT is the best sort of egomaniac: On Landing on a Hundred, he's preachy but delightful.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri November 9, 2012 12:52 pm

Cody ChesnuTT is the best sort of egomaniac. He places himself at the center of his musical universe; he contains that universe within him. On his new album, Landing on a Hundred, he sings one song in the voice of the entire continent of Africa.

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Music Reviews
12:34 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Taylor Swift Leaps Into Pop With 'Red'

Taylor Swift's Red challenges her diehard fans while inviting naysayers to give her music another try.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 4:44 pm

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Music Reviews
11:49 am
Fri October 19, 2012

Gary Clark Jr.: A Raucous Blues Shout

Gary Clark Jr.'s Blak and Blu is an eclectic romp through the blues.
Frank Maddocks

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 9:49 pm

On his major-label debut Blak and Blu, you can hear the roar in Gary Clark Jr.'s blues guitar, and in his vocal throughout "Bright Lights." It's one of the few straight-up blues songs on what is essentially an introduction to one of the most highly praised young blues guitarists in recent times. While Clark comes out of a blues tradition, he's also a twentysomething who's taken in all of contemporary music.

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Music Reviews
9:14 am
Wed October 10, 2012

Iris DeMent's Emotionally Complex 'Sing The Delta'

Sing the Delta is Iris DeMent's first album of new songs in 16 years.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 2:21 pm

Iris DeMent possesses one of the great voices in contemporary popular music: powerfully, ringingly clear, capable of both heartbreaking fragility and blow-your-ears-back power. Had she been making country albums in the '70s and '80s and had more commercial ambition, she'd probably now be considered right up there with Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette.

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