Best Music of 2013: NPR

Magda Giannikou and one of her co-conspirators of her Banda Magda.

Courtesy of the artist


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Courtesy of the artist


Magda Giannikou and one of her co-conspirators of her Banda Magda.

Courtesy of the artist

“World music” can mean just about anything. French club tracks. Field recordings captured on remote islands in the Pacific. Bollywood soundtracks. Argentinian tangos. Or, for that matter, pop, traditional, classical or religious music from anywhere on the globe – as long as the lyrics aren’t sung in English and the instruments aren’t “Western” (unless they are). Admittedly, I’ve assigned myself a pretty broad (and ultimately frustratingly) skill set over nearly 20 years of covering world music for various outlets.

But I like to see the positive repercussions of tagging art in such a vague way. That means I have that much more great music to dig into, even if I never hear a fraction of what’s out there worth hearing. So I invite you to consider this list of 10 albums I’ve really enjoyed this year as just a starting point for discovery – and please tell me what I’ve missed via Twitteron Facebook or in the comments section here.

And be sure to check out all the great international picks on NPR Music’s other year-end lists, from our 50 favorite albums to our 100 favorite songs. Needless to say there are a lot of globalism in the end-of-year selections offered by my friends Jasmine and Felix at Alt.Latino – so check out their excellent list. I was delighted to see that we only had one point of intersection, which means I still have a lot to hear in 2014.

George L. Hernandez