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Mallory Yu

At the heart of Esperanza Spalding's new album, Songwrights Apothecary Lab (S.A.L.), is a question: "What do you need a song for?" In pursuit of answers, Spalding, a Grammy-winning jazz singer and bassist, assembled a team of more than just other musicians; she created a laboratory of sorts, gathering neuroscientists, psychologists, ethnomusicologists and more. "We are like shipwrights," Spalding says in an interview with NPR's Ailsa Chang. "We build things.

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Dev Patel can kind of imagine what it was like to sit with the Knights of the Round Table — he felt that way on his first red carpet and, to some extent, he still feels that way now.

"You're surrounded by all these incredible legends, these knights among us," he says.

In the new movie The Green Knight, Dev Patel plays young Gawain, the nephew of the famed King Arthur. It's based on the poem "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," one of the best known stories in the King Arthur legend.

When the artist Yolanda Quarterly, now better known as Yola, was just a bump in her mother's belly, she was already bopping to music. Yola's mother was a registered nurse, who used to DJ at a hospital's mental health unit. Disco and soul, sounds Yola would hear before entering the world, would go on to influence her later in life.

Hundreds of rescue workers are still searching for survivors in the rubble of the collapsed Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla. As of Tuesday, 32 people have been reported dead, and 113 are still missing.

Mental health counselors are also on the scene, helping families whose loved ones have been confirmed dead and those still waiting for news of missing loved ones.

More than 100 years ago, a poem by Katharine Lee Bates was put to music by Samuel Ward, and the resulting song has become one of the United States' most recognizable patriotic hymns, "America the Beautiful."

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When Mark Miller's 92-year-old mother died this past Sunday, the grief he felt was complex.

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If you haven't already heard...

(SOUNDBITE OF CICADAS SINGING)

SHAPIRO: ...Brood X cicadas are still singing across parts of the U.S. including here in Washington, D.C.

(SOUNDBITE OF CICADAS SINGING)

When the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, big parts of the U.S. economy just turned off. Voluntary social distancing and lockdowns, like those during the first wave in March, were necessary to help "flatten the curve" of COVID-19's spread throughout the country, but these lockdowns had ripple effects on the economy.

"If history is written by winners," author Maria Sherman says, "music history is written by rock critics, and they don't typically get along with boy bands."

For reasons that she explores in her new book, Larger Than Life: A History Of Boy Bands From NKOTB To BTS, Sherman says boy bands don't get the same respect as other music acts, especially their rock peers.

What are you reading during the pandemic? We've been asking that question to a range of writers and they've responded with suggestions for fantasy, poetry, new fiction, old fiction, web comics, fairy tales and more. You can find recommendations below from Ben Philippe, Jade Chang, Raina Telgemeier, Tess Taylor and Thomas Pierce — and we'll add more as the summer goes on.

This past weekend, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling brought a lot of criticism on herself with a series of tweets that many read as transphobic. She seemed to have been set off by an article on access to menstrual hygiene supplies during a global pandemic that referenced "people who menstruate."

Over her decades-long career, Tracee Ellis Ross has starred in beloved shows such as Black-ish and Girlfriends. But as she sees it, her latest role is her most daunting one yet. In The High Note, available to stream on Apple TV on May 29, she plays a superstar singer named Grace Davis, who's facing career stagnancy. Meanwhile, Davis' personal assistant Maggie (played by Dakota Johnson) has musical ambitions of her own as an aspiring producer.

In a decade, Harry Styles has gone from teenage heartthrob to a global pop star in his own right. As he's distanced himself from his adolescent years as a member of One Direction, he's become his own person, starring in the 2017 blockbuster Dunkirk, hosting Saturday Night Live and creating music that pulls from a variety of influences.

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What if the scariest thing isn't a monster in your life, but the emotional demons in your own family? That is an idea Shaun Hamill writes about in his debut novel. NPR's Mallory Yu treats us to the story.

In the industrial city of Dongguan, China, the effects of the trade war on the Chinese economy are measured in idled machinery and empty bar stools.

"One year ago, you probably couldn't even get through the crowd because it would be so busy. But right now, even the smallest vendors can't survive," says Song Guanghui, the owner of Crowdbar, a tricked-out food stall in an open-air market in Dongguan.

Seventy years ago, Mao Zedong appeared on a balcony overlooking Tiananmen Square and conjured a new country into being. On Tuesday, Xi Jinping, arguably the strongest leader since Mao, appeared on that same balcony to reaffirm his vision of modern China.

That vision includes what Xi has repeatedly referred to as the "Chinese Dream," one pillar of which is the idea that all Chinese should have access to the shared prosperity of the nation.

Petra: It's Saturday! (Or actually, as we're posting this it's now Sunday) I feel the need to reiterate this, lest I forget what day it is or which direction is up! Saturday tends to be the day people bust out their best cosplays — I saw some truly amazing getups, including countless Deadpools (Deadspool?), a lot of women dressed as Loki and Doctor Strange, a really well-done armored Cersei Lannister, Missandei of Naath carrying her own head, and my personal favorite, Logan and Jessica from Logan's Run, complete with life-clocks in their palms.

Mallory: It's Friday! By this point in the con, the crowds are much crowdier, the lines for everything are much longer, the cosplay is starting to come out ... we're in the full swing of things, folks.

Welcome to the 50th San Diego Comic-Con!

A good convention is almost a ritual space — a time and place away from time and place. Once you step through that glass door and swipe your badge, you could be anywhere, anywhen; the hours pass by outside and you don't notice. It's almost as if the rest of the world doesn't exist — you are at Comic-Con. You have always been at Comic-Con. What I'm trying to say, here, is that I've barely been here 24 hours and I already don't know which way is up or really what day it is. Mallory, I hope you're less disoriented than I am.

Sarah Kuhn's I Love You So Mochi begins with Japanese American student Kimi Nakamura at a crossroad. Her last spring break of high school is coming up, she's about to graduate and start attending a prestigious art school. But here's the thing: She's not so sure anymore that she wants to be a painter like her mom. She's not sure what she wants.

I don't remember when the concept of consent as it relates to sex became part of my vocabulary, but it shapes how I approach my personal relationships and affects the way I move through the world. I was shaken when the #MeToo movement exploded, not only by the stories of sexual assault and harassment but also by the stories of women who had felt pressured or coerced into having sex they didn't want.

It's been 50 years since Woodstock Music & Arts Festival. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of three days of peace, love and music, Woodstock 50 will take place Aug. 16–18, 2019, in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Festival co-founder Michael Lang has announced the official lineup for the anniversary festival with Jay-Z, Dead & Company and The Killers as headliners.

The late pop star Michael Jackson, once hailed as the King of Pop, is the focus of the new documentary Leaving Neverland, which airs this weekend on HBO. The four-hour documentary centers on two of Jackson's alleged sexual abuse victims, Wade Robson and James Safechuck. Robson and Safechuck, now both in their 30s, say that Jackson sexually abused them for years when they were as young as 7 and 10 years old. Filmmaker Dan Reed spent three years putting this documentary together.

Director Dan Gilroy is back with a new film called Velvet Buzzsaw.

Like his last movie, Nightcrawler, Gilroy is the writer and director. And also like his last film, this one stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo. Gyllenhaal plays an art critic named Morf Vandewalt, Russo a gallery owner named Rhodora Haze. And the movie hinges around the work of the late artist Vetril Dease.

As the names may give away, Velvet Buzzsaw is a comedy. It's also a horror movie, where the killer is — wait for it — the works of art.

When comics creator Taneka Stotts accepted an Eisner Award — the comics industry's highest honor — this year for her anthology Elements: Fire — A Comic Anthology by Creators of Color, she was fired up.

"I hold this award," she said, "and I declare war on the antiquated mentality that tells us our voices and stories aren't 'profitable' enough ... we're not waiting for you to catch up anymore. We are here, we have always been here, and we will do as you've always told us. We will make it ourselves."

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