The Labèque sisters playing Mozart. Photo: BBC/Chris Christodoulou
Proms 2015: The Labèque sisters do Mozart and Shostakovich takes us to Leningrad
By Caroline Crampton - 01 August 8:59

Plus a surpise encore of the fourth of Philip Glass’s Four Movements for Two Pianos.

The three pianists with Valery Gergiev. Photo: BBC/Chris Christodoulou
Proms 2015: Is five Prokofiev piano concertos in one night too many?
By Caroline Crampton - 29 July 8:45

Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra's rendition of all five Prokofiev piano concertos in one programme has divided critics: is it a gimmick, or a masterstroke?

Rip it up: Chuck Berry in 1958. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
It’s One for the Money: Tracing the history of theft in pop music
By Yo Zushi - 23 July 11:44

Does culture exist in a vacuum? This “love letter to creative thievery” would suggest not.

A lighthouse. Photo: Flickr/Dennis Jarvis
Sinister structures or homely beacons: why lighthouses stand firm as a cultural symbol
By Oliver Farry - 21 July 17:54

Though they are rarely operational these days, lighthouses remain culturally powerful and maintain a strong hold on the imagination. 

Michael Jackson waving. Photo: Getty
Mamma Mia, here we go again: why does the West End keep churning out tribute musicals?
By Liv Constable-Maxwell - 20 July 14:14

Jukebox shows are beginning to dominate the West End.

Thomas Søndergård in action. Photo: Tom Finnie
Proms 2015: Poulenc, Stravinsky, Haydn and Mozart with Thomas Søndergård and the BBCNOW
By Caroline Crampton - 19 July 8:33

The real revelation of the evening was the BBC National Chorus of Wales - it's a shame we won't be hearing from them again this season.

A man waits outside the Royal Albert hall during the BBC Proms. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Why every progressive person should sing the Proms' praises
By Caroline Crampton - 17 July 12:12

An image of elitism still hovers around classical music - but the Proms have a democratic history that ought to be celebrated.

The Who perform on Glastonbury's Pyramid Stage. Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images
As I tried to get to my seat at the Who concert, I felt bad about making all the old people stand up
By Will Self - 16 July 9:36

It occurred to me that the only possible summation would be a paraphrase of Dr Johnson’s infamous remarks about female preachers, which is to say, I was amazed not so much by the Who playing well, as that they were capable of playing at all.

The artwork An Oak Tree. Photo: YouTube screengrab/TateShots: Michael Craig-Martin/Tate
Can a glass of water also be an oak tree?
By Liv Constable-Maxwell - 15 July 16:56

Why when one creative claims to turn his glass into an oak tree, we accept it as a heart-breaking reaction to loss, and when another does the same, it's confusingly pointless?

Bob Dylan, Richard Wager. . . what algorithm could contain both? Photo: Pierre Guillaud/AFP/Getty Images
SEO and algorithms? Numbers can't match up to plain good taste
By Ed Smith - 15 July 9:29

Truly independent expertise can never be swayed. Numbers, on the other hand, can be manipulated reasonably easily.

Marr has called the so-called Northern Powerhouse "thick" and "patronising". Photo: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty
Johnny Marr calls the Tory "Northern Powerhouse" thick and patronising
By Media Mole - 09 July 17:30

The Smiths guitarist and perennial Tory-botherer has tweeted his disapproval.

The crowd during Kanye West's set at Glastonbury. Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images
Tracey Thorn's Glastonbury highlights: Mary J Blige, Kanye – and not having to be there
By Tracey Thorn - 09 July 14:43

I performed twice at Glastonbury, crippled by stage fright, poor sound, chilly weather and an overwhelming desire to be anywhere else. Luckily, you can now join in via the telly.

Chimney-sweep music: the spirit of Dick Van Dyke hangs over Damon Albarn’s
Modernist ballet and "chimney sweep music": Stuart Maconie on the Manchester International Festival
By Stuart Maconie - 09 July 13:56

Damon Albarn's and Tree of Codes, with music by Jamie xx, open this year's festival.

Rihanna's BBHMM music video is an example of the Ballardian Atrocity Exhibition. Photo: YouTube Screengrab
BBC imperialism, the enigma of John Freeman, and Rihanna’s Atrocity Exhibition
By Jason Cowley - 08 July 17:26

The Rihanna video is a prime exhibit in what J G Ballard called modern society’s Atrocity Exhibition.

Azealia Banks singing. Photo:Getty
From Nina Simone to Azealia Banks: female singers who aren't afraid to swear
By Liv Constable-Maxwell - 07 July 11:58

The new documentary What’s Happened, Miss Simone makes an interesting point about the power of women singers using swear words.

There are quite a few BDSM signifiers in the video to BBHMM. Photo: YouTube screengrab
Rihanna's BBHMM video has horrified many feminists – but I saw an empowering BDSM fantasy
By Margaret Corvid - 06 July 16:04

The last time I looked, a heavy black leather collar covered in D rings is not what supposedly goes with a bikini this year.

Rihanna's BBHMM shows sexualised violence against women. Photo: BBHMM screenshot
Let's talk about Rihanna's video
By Helen Lewis - 03 July 11:18

Spoiler alert: the sexualised torture of a rich white woman is still sexualised violence against women.

A losing game: Amy Winehouse at her Camden Town home in 2004. Photo: Karen Robinson/The Guardian
Mawkish tabloid fare: how the Amy Winehouse film fails
By Kate Mossman - 02 July 15:02

This film laments the way Winehouse's life was intruded upon while relying on the same methods to create drama.

Rule the school: Mobile’s juvenile Mardi Gras king and queen in 2010. Photo: Jeff and Meggan Haller/Keyhole Photo/Corbis
The secret history of Mardi Gras
By Kate Mossman - 02 July 8:50

Segregated Mardi Gras in Alabama tells us a lot about life in the South.

SRSLY #1: Grey Beginnings

In the first episode of the NS's new pop culture podcast, we discuss Grey by E L James, the new Amy Winehouse documentary, and why One Direction is actually the saddest music you will ever hear.

The gospel according to Taylor Swift: how her vulnerability leads to power
By Simon Parkin - 29 June 13:13

Pop's woman of the moment forms a friendship with fans through her honest lyrics and disarming stage presence.

Harry Potter in his cupboard under the stairs.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: what can we expect from JK Rowling's new play?
By Anna Leszkiewicz - 26 June 11:10

J K Rowling announced on Twitter this morning that she will co-write a new Harry Potter stage play. 

A bandmember at the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
"The singing war": how the American Civil War created a whole new style of music
By Antonia Quirke - 25 June 14:46

It was not just a huge body of songs that emerged but a whole musical style that was markedly non-European.

What's your poison? John Doran describes 24 years of drunkenness. Photo: Al Overdrive
Life after addiction: John Doran on music and other drugs
By Colm McAuliffe - 25 June 10:37

“Alcoholism is a self-inflicted leisure injury. . . I refuse to portray myself as this helpless victim. I sound like some anxiety-ridden heroine in an Oscar Wilde play but I couldn’t deal with life.”

James Horner won both his Oscars for his work on “Titanic”.
James Horner, Oscar-winning composer of the Titanic soundtrack, dies in a plane crash
By Caroline Crampton - 23 June 12:02

Best known for co-writing “My Heart Will Go On”, Horner wrote innovative and popular scores for a whole host of Hollywood films.

A still from "Bad Blood", Swift's most recent music video.
Taylor Swift may have won her battle with Apple Music, but the streaming wars aren’t over
By Barbara Speed - 22 June 14:36

The artist sent an open letter to Apple Music, arguing that artists should be paid during the service's trial period. 

Alistair McGowan as Jimmy Savile. Photo: Helen Maybanks
A terrifying, sweaty memory: Alistair McGowan's dark turn as Jimmy Savile
By Mark Lawson - 19 June 12:02

McGowan's performance demonstrates the combination of eccentricity and intimidation that allowed Savile first to lure his victims and then to disguise his abuse of them.

The Jam play the Manchester Apollo, 1980. Photo: Harry Potts/Flickr
Slaves to the rhythm: what the non-frontmen have to say
By James Medd - 18 June 12:42

Accounts of The Jam, the Grateful Dead, Alice Cooper and Belle and Sebastian come from the back.

James Rhodes performs at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Photo: Amy T. Zielinski/Getty Images
In pianist James Rhodes' self-hatred, there is a compelling case for empathy
By Caroline Crampton - 18 June 12:06

In his memoir Instrumental, it feels at times as though Rhodes is daring you to dismiss him, to find his story trivial or inferior.

David McVicar’s new production of Mozart’s first successful opera is a vision innocent of its own Orientalism
By Alexandra Coghlan - 15 June 16:53

Die Entführung aus dem Serail, or The Abduction from the Seraglio, hits the spot when staged at Glyndebourne.