FBI Email Investigation, Science News: Cosmic Voids, Ancient Humanoids And Creeps, Songs That Reduce Anxiety

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Do you sing in your car before a job interview or a first date? Maybe you blast hard rock before a big presentation. We talk about what songs could calm you down when it matters most. We find out about cosmic voids, ancient humanoids and just what–scientifically–makes someone a creep, on our recurring Science News segment. We get the latest on reactions to a second FBI email investigation which concluded on Sunday, and resulted in the bureau clearing Hillary Clinton a second time.

Featured in this Show

  • FBI Clears Clinton Again After Second Email Probe

    On Sunday, FBI Director James Comey told Congress that after conducting a second investigation into emails connected with Hillary Clinton, the bureau decided to stand by its earlier decision to not seek charges against her for using a private email server as Secretary of State. A reporter who has been covering Clinton’s email controversy tells us more.

  • Music To Soothe Anxiety

    Stephen Thompson joins us from NPR Music to talk about what music to listen to when you’re trying to calm anxiety.

  • Election Anxiety? Here Are 5 Songs To Help

    Millions of Americans will head to the polls Tuesday, and while some might feel a sense of relief after they cast their ballot for doing their civic duty, the following 24 hours are still expected to bring anxiety as people around the world prepare to find out who will be the next president of the United States.

    Couple that anxiety with the last few months of debates, campaign ads and political Facebook commentary and it’s no surprise people feel stressed out.

    If going on a social media fast and avoiding the news doesn’t seem like a fitting solution, consider drowning out the noise instead of completely shutting it off. NPR Music editor and reviewer, and Pop Culture Happy Hour co-creator Stephen Thompson recommends using music as a mental reset button.

    “Music is very good for centering you and transporting you to a comfortable place,” Thompson said. “And so many times, you don’t need to relax so much as you need to reset and know where your priorities are.”

    Here are some of Thompson’s top recommendation for songs that’ll cut through the noise.

    “Weightless” By Marconi Union

    Thompson, who admits to working in a crowded office without cubicles, said the track helps him focus.

    “I listen to a lot of this swirling, enveloping no-vocals-to-distract-you kind of sounds,” he said, sharing the ambient and atmospheric qualities of the song were not just good for work, but also relaxation.

    “When I talk about transporting you to that warm relaxing place, (this) song transports you into the womb,” he said.

    “Bread” by Clem Snide

    Appropriately named after a crowd-pleasing carbohydrate and comfort food, “Bread” is a song that is an example of what Thompson would consider a comfort song.

    “This particular song (has) details of getting together with someone you love, and conjures not only a place … (but) the smell of baking bread,” Thompson said, alluding to the song’s lyrics “Cause you smell like bread, and now the pillow does, too.”

    The lyrics aren’t all Thompson said evoke memories of home and comfort, he also credits the mellowness of Clem Snide vocalist Eef Barzelay.

    “His voice just hits this exact sweet spot,” Thompson said. “I’ve likened his voice to Kermit the Frog, because Kermit the Frog evokes the feeling of ‘everything is OK.’”

    “Easy Now” by Joan Shelley

    Thompson admitted to being a fan of almost everything the Kentucky singer-songwriter has released. But he highlighted an easy-to-repeat lyric that the song is named after.

    “I have used (that lyric) ‘easy now, it’s almost over’ throughout this election season and throughout any number of difficult points in my life that have cropped up since this record came out,” he said.

    “Bats In The Attic” by King Creosote & Jon Hopkins

    For anyone that likes to use music as a tool to be transported into another place, Thompson said King Creosote & Jon Hopkins’ album “The Diamond Mine” quite literally tries to do that.

    “The album opens with this scene in a café, and you’re just hearing the sounds of a Scottish café, and it places you somewhere else, and that’s really what all of this is about,” he said.

    While the song title “Bats In The Attic” doesn’t evoke a sense of calm, it features an ethereal voice and musical elements that leaves a listener with a sense of anticipation and curiosity.

    “U Smile (800 Percent Slower)” By Justin Bieber

    Pop music has plenty to offer to the world of calming and comforting music. Thompson said another one of his favorites was “a 35-minute piece of music by a famous classical experimental composer by the name of Justin Bieber.”

    The track takes an approximately three-minute Justin Bieber song, and stretches it out, slows it down, and manipulates it to something that ends up being close in length to a Mozart symphony.

    “It takes his voice and turns (Bieber) into a celestial choirboy,” Thompson said.

  • Science News: Cosmic Voids, Denosivan Human Ancestors, What Scientifically Defines A Creep

    It’s no news that the universe is full of empty space…but scientists are now using that empty space, known as a cosmic void, to learn more about how our universe was formed. Gemma Tarlach of Discover Magazine shares the details of this and other top science news.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Haleema Shah Producer
  • Veronica Rueckert Producer
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Rosalind L. Helderman Guest
  • Stephen Thompson Guest
  • Gemma Tarlach Guest

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