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Best Global Music Of 2014

Stromae's <em>Racine Carrée</em> (<em>Square Root</em>) is one of NPR Music's picks for our favorite international releases of 2014.
Dati Bendo
Courtesy of the artist
Stromae's Racine Carrée (Square Root) is one of NPR Music's picks for our favorite international releases of 2014.

Every year, when I put together this list, I see the same question arise: What is world music? (A better, and even less answerable question: What isn't world music?)

So, so much stunningly beautiful music, with amazing insights and great beats, is being made all around the globe. There are songs to dance wildly to and albums to crawl inside of. This music takes you outside your own surroundings and gives you a different perspective. And only a tiny portion of it — even the very best produced each year — gets the attention of American audiences. That's my starting point for making this annual list of 10 must-listen albums, as problematic as the term "world music" continues to be.

Here's what I have to say: All music is "world" music. All music is rooted in a particular time and place, and in some culture or other. But if using the category of "world music," or "global music" or "international music" allows some tiny portion of stunningly good projects to get onto the radar of American music fans, then that's reason enough to put these wildly diverse, joyfully gorgeous albums together. And believe me: There's more where these came from.

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Anastasia Tsioulcas
Anastasia Tsioulcas is a correspondent on NPR's Culture desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including the trial and conviction of former R&B superstar R. Kelly; backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; and gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards.