Music News: Acoustic music surges during listener lockdown


The Current Music News for May 19, 2020 (MPR Video)

As Rolling Stone puts it, "The Sound of the Coronavirus Quarantine Is an Acoustic Guitar." That's true, according to the magazine's data, not just because an acoustic guitar is one of the easier instruments to whip out for a livestream concert. Listeners have also turned towards acoustic music and Americana as they've sheltered in place.

Music streaming overall is still down, and that's especially the case with genres driven by new releases, the kind of music you put on at a party. Top 40 is way down, and so is hip-hop. Although country artists are also pushing back their new releases, though, country music overall is up — and so are bluegrass, roots music, and singer-songwriter classics.

That means Bob Dylan and Joan Baez are back, baby. So is Townes Van Zandt, and John Denver is taking off like a jet plane. Rolling Stone actually sees a similar effect in the catalogs of both Bob Dylan and Taylor Swift: their later, louder material is sagging, while their earlier acoustic songs are staying strong. For Dylan, that means "Let Me Die in My Footsteps." For Swift, that means "Today Was a Fairytale."

Billie Eilish launches Takashi Murakami collaboration

Billie Eilish: that's a name you know. Takashi Murakami might not be...but you should. The 58-year-old Japanese artist is known for crossing lines between high and low culture, as much at home in a shopping mall as in a museum of modern art. He's collaborated with all sorts of designers and retailers, and with artists like Billie Eilish; he directed her music video for "You Should See Me in a Crown."

Now, Eilish and Murakami are launching a line of clothes and products from the Japan-based retailer UNIQLO, comfy but cutting-edge in true Billie Eilish style. (Daily Mail)

Despite playing all-star charity concerts and launching a fashion line, Eilish has still found time to relax with her newly adopted pit bull puppy. What are they cuddling up and watching? The Office, of course. Eilish recently hopped on Instagram live with actor Rainn Wilson and told him she just finished watching the series for the 15th time. Even Wilson, who starred in the show, told her it's time to move on. (Billboard)

Former VJ Matt Pinfield enters recovery center in wake of car accident

If you watched 120 Minutes on MTV back in the '90s, you remember Matt Pinfield, the VJ who hosted the alternative music show. He's now thanking his friends and fans who, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, are still chipping in to support him as he continues to rebuild his "physical and mental health" after being hit by a car in 2018.

That accident caused serious injuries to Pinfield's head and leg, and a GoFundMe recently launched to support him as he enters a recovery center. The fund is now most of the way to its $50,000 goal, thanks in part to famous friends like Perry Ferrell (Jane's Addiction) and Johnny Rzeznik (Goo Goo Dolls). Pinfield says he's swallowed his "foolish pride" to open up about his health struggles, and thanks his supporters: "You give me the feeling of a favorite new song." (Rolling Stone)

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Chris Trovero surprised me and had to talk me into this campaign to help me with my doctor specialists as it's very expensive to get the kind of help I need physically and the mental anguish of nearly losing a leg and it caused me to not only relapse but I was reluctant and wanted to keep it a secret because of my foolish pride. You can't save your ass and your face at the same time as we are human, and everything can change in a second. He, and my sister Allison Hagendorf spearheaded this GoFundMe amd although I was hesitant about asking for help, I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude for all the outpouring of love and your contribution. Life is so short and I've got the greatest friends and community in the world. Words could not express my love and gratitude. You know I'll fight all the back thanks to each and everyone of you. You give me the feeling of a favorite new song. Love you all so much.

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Tomorrow, The Current will be marking Wellness Wednesday in collaboration with MPR's Call to Mind initiative, helping to foster new conversations during Mental Health Month.

As concerts return, what are you seeing?

That controversial Travis McCready show happened Monday night in Arkansas, and despite the very different, socially-distanced concert experience, fans said they welcomed the opportunity to get back to seeing music in person. As live music begins to return this week, whether through super-sanitized indoor concerts like that one or through parking lot shows where people sit in their cars, we'll be watching to see how it goes — and we want to know, what are you experiencing? Are you seeing these stories in your community? Have you considered going, or does that not feel like a safe option to you right now? Let us know in the comments or replies, and we'll circle back later this week.

Snoop Dogg and Idina Menzel vibe together, remotely

Snoop Dogg and Idina Menzel may seem like they come from different worlds, but they may have more in common than you realize. They were both born in 1971, they were both '90s icons who turned into multimedia stars, and they're apparently both bucking that acoustic-guitar trend.

After Snoop posted a video of himself sitting in his car enjoying Menzel's performance of "Let It Go," Menzel responded with a clip of herself digging "Drop It Like It's Hot." (Pop Sugar)

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Let it go

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