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#XPN5050: 1995

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, David Dye is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1995.

Between Blur, Oasis, Pulp, and Elastical, the year 1995 saw the rise of Britpop in the alternative rock world, but that’s not all that was going on. Singer songwriters broke through in a big way, like Alanis Morissette and Joan Osborne on Jagged Little Pill and Relish. Heritage artists like Randy Newman, Paul Weller, and Annie Lennox made compelling new work, while hip-hop like Coolio and Shaggy ruled the charts.  Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 2010

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, John Vettese is putting the musical spotlight on the year 2010.

The year 2010 was a year of high-highs, a year of records that swung for the fences and hit it more often than not. In the pop realm, it was a year of albums that found artists at the top of their game — Kanye West’s masterpiece, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, as well as Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach — and in some cases, just beginning their game with a bang (Janelle Monae’s funky fun ArchAndroid LP). It was also the year of bands previously known as “indie” — Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, The National — making that big leap into the manstream pool. And for some artists, they managed to do both things at once, as LCD Soundsystem did with their party rager This is Happening LP.
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#XPN5050: 1986

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Bruce Warren is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1986.

For a turbulent year of alarming news stories — from the Challenger to Chernobyl to Mad Cow Disease and the Iran-Contra Affair — the music of 1986 was equally turbulent, and not easily contained in a box.

You had Paul Simon collaborate with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the Boyoyo Boys to record Graceland, the album that defined the second era of the veteran singer-songwriter’s career, and an eternal best-rock/pop-album-of-all-time contender.

You saw New Order release its fourth LP, Brotherhood, topping charts in its native United Kingdom and getting a warm reception stateside as well, solidifying the Manchester band’s transition from post-punk to electronic dance, particularly on the hit single “Bizarre Love Triangle.”

Run D.M.C. and Beastie Boys brought hip-hop to the mainstream with Raising Hell and Licensed to Ill, respectively, while Janet Jackson re-invented herself as a pop goddess on Control and They Might Be Giants debuted with their self-titled collection cerebral indie rock.

Other albums with hits galore on the mainstream and college rock scenes were Prince’s Parade, Madonna’s True Blue, and R.E.M.’s Life’s Rich Pageant. 

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#XPN5050: 1999

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Eric Schuman is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1999.

It was a musically bizarre landscape during final year of the 1990s (and, depending on who you ask, the final year of the 20th century): the alternative zeitgeist had long since died away, pop music was developing a new sheen for the new millennium, nümetal was in its unfortunate ascendence.

But there were stone cold classics released that year as well: The Magnetic Fields’ magnum opus 69 Love Songs captured the imagination of the indie rock underground, The Roots’ Things Fall Apart launched them from the Philadelphia map to the global map, R&B trio TLC crafted another chart-topper to perfection with “No Scrubs” from Fanmail, and Moby’s Play was not only a critical hit, but it redefined commercial success when it managed to license every single one of its 18 tracks to various commercials.

Veteran artists like Blondie, Blur, and Luscious Jackson tried to re-invent themselves with new releases in 1999; the year also saw the quiet debut of bands who would go on to huge acclaim, like The White Stripes and My Morning Jacket.  Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 2015

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this #XPN5050, Kristen Kurtis is putting the musical spotlight on the year 2015.

In some ways, it seems strange to be celebrating such a recent period of time in our year of throwbacks, the #XPN5050. Like, wasn’t it just 2015 not all that long ago?

But take a look at a few of the albums released then, and you’ll agree. This wasn’t a year where music needed time and distance to be assimilated and appreciated in the realm of music history. This is a year of records that arrived on the scene fully formed, of instant classics. Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 1979

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly, however, for our first #XPN5050, Dan Reed is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1979.

For those of you who remember, the summer of 1979 saw the debut of the Sony Walkman. In it, we slipped cassettes of some now classic records that came out that year: The Clash’s London Calling, Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Talking Heads Fear of Music, and possibly even the cassingle of “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang.

1979 was a year when musical styles were emerging, colliding, and shaking up contemporary music is exciting new ways. New York City rockers were finding inspiration from rap and ska, British rockers were finding inspiration from reggae and soul, R&B was in its post-disco come down, and British New Wave was about to take the States by storm. It was a glorious, creative, musical year. Continue reading →

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Introducing the XPN 50/50: 50 musical years in 50 weeks

Starting Saturday, January 5th, XPN introduces a new weekly program: The XPN 50/50, showcasing 50 musical years in 50 weeks. For five hours each Saturday afternoon, noon to 5 p.m., we’ll take a walk into the musical time machine, digging into one year’s record releases.

We kick things off with the year 1979, hosted by XPN Music Director, afternoon DJ, Highs In The 70s, and the Americana Music Hour host Dan Reed. Each week we’ll pick the years randomly with a different XPN host curating the day’s music. Continue reading →