The Five Best Tiny Desk Concerts

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NPR’s Tiny Desk concerts are the perfect combination of intimate and exposed. Famous for its decorated bookshelf backdrop and tight space, the NPR Tiny Desk concerts are free videos posted to the NPR Music YouTube channel. This unconventional venue has been a host of genres like jazz, r&b, rap, hip-hop and radio pop. The channel has had big names such as Tame Impala, Lizzo, Adele and Billie Eilish. Despite these big names, the cramped cubicle seems to break down a barrier between today’s artists and the viewer. 

Between songs, the invited artist shares a laugh or looks across the way at their bandmate to nod to them after a job well done. It’s a side of celebrities that we don’t often see and embarrassingly, sometimes we forget they have. Guests take breaks between songs to explain how or why they’ve created some of their work. Tiny Desk Concerts also give the experience of truly viewing a performance. At a typical concert, you may find yourself looking around to the crowd and taking in the experience of others. The NPR Tiny Desk Concerts confines you to watch the artist and only the artist the whole time. 

The length of each set never exceeds 20 minutes, merely a fraction of a standard concert but what some may consider longer than the attention span most have for YouTube videos. A welcome feature of these videos is that they can be re-winded, replayed and shared for as long as they exist on the internet. 

Below are five especially memorable Tiny Desk and Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts.

1.Artist: Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals

via NPR Music on YouTube

Genre: Contemporary R&B, Hip Hop

Views: 55 million *most viewed video in the series

Memorable Moment: The connection Paak has with the audience at the start of “Heart Don’t Stand A Chance” when he does a short rap with no accompaniment [4:14]

2.Artist: Harry Styles

via NPR Music on YouTube

Genre: Pop, Rock

Views: 6.3 million

Memorable Moment: Styles remarks on a lyric that audience members seem to sing back to him the loudest from his song “To Be So Lonely” [10:20]

3.Artist: Tame Impala

via NPR Music on YouTube

Genre: Psychedelic Pop, Psychedelic Rock

Views: 1.2 million

Memorable Moment: The playful camera angles seen circling around the performers that aren’t present in a typical Tiny Desk Concert [8:00]

4.Artist: Pheobe Bridgers

via NPR Music on YouTube

Genre: Indie Rock, Folk Rock

Views: 948K

Memorable Moment: Bridgers clear and soulful performance of “Motion Sickness” [4:02]

5.Artist: Daniel Caesar

via NPR Music on YouTube

Genre: Contemporary R&B, Soul

Views: 12 million

Memorable Moment: Caesar and bandmates spectacular blending around the piano during “Best Part” [12:10]

VALLEY recommends that you check out these performances and more on the NPR Music Youtube channel!


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