The Best 2020 Tiny Desk Contest Entries We Saw This Week: Volume 4
Throughout the next few months, we'll be sharing some of the many 2020 Tiny Desk Contest entries that have caught our eyes and ears. We recently extended our deadline for entries: You now have until until 11:59 p.m. ET on April 27 to enter the Contest. Check out a playlist of all the entries we've featured on the blog on YouTube — and if you think you've got what it takes, you can check out the Official Rules and fill out the eligibility checklist, then film your video and submit it here.
Linda Diaz, "Green Tea Ice Cream"
Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Pairs well with: Watching waves crash and swirl in turquoise tide pools; picnics in the park
I was ecstatic to see that Linda Diaz entered the Contest with "Green Tea Ice Cream," a track off the Brooklyn-based singer's 2019 EP, Magic. This entry is springtime bliss; it elicits visions of sticky cotton candy clouds, pastel chalk on sunny sidewalks and ooey-gooey, lovey-dovey moments. Diaz's voice, perfectly complemented by the backing vocals, offers an escape from reality and welcomes listeners into a refreshingly flirtatious, dream-like trance. —Elle Mannion
Charles Turner & Uptown Swing, "Harlem, Harlem, Harlem"
Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Pairs well with: Swing dancing through the street like no one's watching
Charles Turner & Uptown Swing demonstrate the spirit of jazz is alive and well in the entry for "Harlem Harlem Harlem." Emitting a clear sense of pride and sincerity, this band will make you feel like you're part of an intimate performance at one of the hottest jazz clubs in New York City during the days of the Harlem Renaissance. This preservation of culture in a historic neighborhood comes full circle as Turner sings the hook, "It's that kind of spirit/ We call andmaintain/ It's Harlem Harlem Harlem/ It can't be renamed — and it will remain." —Tolu Igun
Ex Romantika, "Grand Candela"
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Pairs well with: Bold outfits and bolder statements
While "Grand Candela" could stand alone for its infectious, Latin-funk beat, make no mistake – this is a protest song. It shares its name with the towering memorial to the 22 victims of the 2019 El Paso shooting, and Ex Romantika vocalists Iram Reyes and Yacellys Isabella recall this and other violent events with a sometimes jarring amount of detail. Though the song's sunny, brass-filled groove may seem at odds with its message, I like to think of this "Grand Candela" as its own memorial, conveying the joy of music for those who can no longer live it. —Allie Prescott
Andrew Sturtz, "Southern Night"
Hometown: Boulder, Colo.
Pairs well with: Seeking solace amidst the stressors of a global pandemic
I've never meditated, but I can imagine it elicits the same sense of tranquility as Andrew Sturtz's folk song "Southern Night." This entry is a reassuring breath of fresh air that pulls me back to simpler times. Let Sturtz's soothing voice, combined with his bandmates' beautiful harmonies and calming cello, lull you into a respite. Breathe in. Watch this entry. Breathe out. —Elle Mannion
Samantha Clemons, "Bubble Boy"
Hometown: St. Louis, Mo.
Pairs well with: Nightime thunderstorms in the distance; the warmth of a comforting hand
Hearing Samantha Clemons' entry "Bubble Boy" this week was a refreshing reminder of the power of live, stripped-down performances. (Remember those?) Clemons' voice is striking: secured in deep depths in one moment, then bursting like wildfire in the next. And just as complex as her range are her lyrics — the story she tells of a mother desperate to protect her son from the world around him is so beautifully imagined. For too many reasons, we can't all be in the room where it happened, but if you just close your eyes, this entry will take you there. —Pilar Fitzgerald
Blue and Gray, "Just Like Marilyn"
Hometown: Claymont, Del.
Pairs well with: Reruns of Daria; Pavement's 2020 reunion
In "Just Like Marilyn," Yejoon Koh kickflips through high school memories, weighing both the practical and existential. Is the narrator just an out-of-place metal kid? Can he criticize and embrace capitalism simultaneously? Though we may never get clear answers, the search for them is surprisingly enjoyable thanks to Blue and Gray's punchy, '90s-inspired sound. —Allie Prescott
Mama Haze, "On Your Side"
Hometown: Oakland, Calif.
Pairs well with: A lit fireplace; some crackle on your stereo
We could all use a good old-fashioned soul slow jam right now, and Mama Haze's entry video for "On Your Side" checks all the boxes. Groovy, rolling bassline? Check. Smooth, soulful vocals and lyrics about love and devotion? Check. Falsetto back-up vocals you can embarrass yourself by singing along with on the chorus? Check. Filmed in front of a giant Christmas tree? Admittedly not a hallmark of the genre, but it is a nice touch to round out the lovely, warm atmosphere of an entry that feels like stepping into a time capsule for a few minutes. —Jon Lewis
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