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Life Kit's Guide To Feel-Good Tiny Desks

For Tiny Desk Playlists, we ask musicians, creators and folks we admire to choose the Tiny Desk concerts they've come to love. For this edition, we've asked the team behind NPR's Life Kit to share the shows that bring them joy and make their faces hurt from smiling.

Superorganism: This is the only band I've ever seen bring bubbles, apples and a bucket of suds to use as instruments in its Tiny Desk concert. I was a bit skeptical when I showed up to the performance. Was this a gimmick? Twenty seconds into their soundcheck, I was smiling my face off. Revisiting this unconventional Tiny Desk buoys my spirits and reminds me to let loose, experiment and take play seriously. —Beck Harlan, Visuals Editor, Life Kit

Cimafunk: Cuban music is filled with love and loss, triumph and grief; and, above all else, for me, it's filled with joy. This Tiny Desk was recorded in January 2020 and inspired me to travel to Cuba to visit my daughter in February. It proved to be my last trip before COVID, and a show featuring Cimafunk, Tank and The Bangas and others is still my most recent live performance. "Joyful" hardly does this Tiny Desk justice. Try not to smile and dance when you listen. —Beth Donovan, Senior Director, Life Kit

CHAI: Opening with a choreographed, pom-pom-costumed dance number and complete with a full set of Barbie-pink instruments, the CHAI Tiny Desk was one to remember — my face actually hurt from smiling so much. This all-female band from Japan is part pop, part punk and all joy. Come for the fun visuals, stay for the serious grlpower. —Andee Tagle, Production Assistant, Life Kit

Rina Sawayama: Rina Sawayama's music brings all the best elements of early 2000s music and gives it an energized modern twist. I'm a sucker for big vocals and Rina delivers them here (not to mention a fabulous lavender power suit). If you're a millennial weirdly nostalgic for dancing to pop songs with your Discman, this Tiny Desk will transport you. —Meghan Keane, Managing Producer, Life Kit

Big Boi: When I think about Big Boi, I think about driving to high school in Atlanta with "So Fresh, So Clean" playing. So I smiled to myself as soon as he, Sleepy Brown and their eight-member crew started with that song, wearing their matching sweatshirts in Waffle House font. But what really made this Tiny Desk was the chemistry between the whole group — the familiar banter between Big Boi and Sleepy Brown, the horns and backup vocals punctuating Big Boi's rhymes in perfect time. Come for the classic OutKast hits, stay for the joy on their faces during "All Night," from Big Boi's 2017 Boomiverse. —Clare Lombardo, Editor/Producer, Life Kit

Tiny Desks In This Playlist

Rina Sawayama
Big Boi

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