Tiny Desk Concerts are, as the name suggests, concerts performed around a tiny desk. NPR Music along with Bob Boilen (host of All Songs Considered) started the live concert video series back in 2008.
Boilen and Stephen Thompson (editor of NPR Music) came up with the idea of Tiny Desk Concert after leaving a live show frustrated. And with something that started off as a joke, the videos of the concerts are now viewed more than 2 billion times collectively.
What’s unique about Tiny Desk Concerts is how intimate the artists and their performances can get. In addition to the music, the artists also sometimes share the stories behind the songs.
Here is our pick of the best Tiny Desk Concerts.
Sting and Shaggy.
Did you feel a bit odd hearing Sting and Shaggy together? We did too in the beginning. But when the two veterans came together and performed at the Tiny Desk Concert in 2019, it was an absolute delight. The two played a number of songs together including “Englishman (and Jamaican) in New York,” and “Shape of My Heart,” featuring late Rapper Juice Wrld’s “Lucid Dreams.”
It’s never disappointing when you know it’s Wu-Tang Clan performing. And in 2018 they made sure to give their best even when the stage was a bit cramped for all of them. But in true Wu-Tang fashion, the hip-hop crew gave a thrilling performance to remember. Late ODB’s son Young Dirty Bastard also joined the clan to pay tribute to his father.
Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals.
Anderson .Paak gave one of the best performances ever at the Tiny Desk Concert in 2014. So much so that it became the most viewed concert videos with over 61 million views as of now.
The soulfulness in Paak’s voice along with the Free Nationals’ music has an unmatched vibe. And it was visible throughout the entire performance.
Mac Miller performed his songs from the album Swimming on the Tiny Desk Concert in 2018. It was the last album he put out before his passing. It previewed almost a month before his untimely death. And thanks to the video, we can see why Mac Miller was one of the best rappers and an amazing performer of our times.
While 2020 was a mess, English singer Jacob Collier’s performance was one of the best things that happened that year.
Usually, a band accompanies the artist to perform at the concert. However, in Jacob’s case, he was a one-man-band. Jacob performed from the comforts of his home due to the ongoing pandemic. It is also the reason why Tiny Desk Concert is now Tiny Desk (Home) Concert.
The soulful performance was not just unique but was also a pleasure to witness.
Jhene Aiko was another artist to do the concert from her home. She played tracks from her new album as well as her previous hits. And she proved that her songs’ live versions are as angelic as her records.
The queen of neo-soul, Erykah Badu brought her soulful self to the Tiny Desk in 2018. And in true Erykah Badu fashion, she served an experience unlike anything else.
Chloe x Halle.
Beyonce’s prodigies Chloe x Halle gave out one of the most energetic and beautiful performances in Tiny Desk Concerts. The energy of the two sisters along with the band is unmatched.