NPR's annual Tiny Desk Contest has become a nationwide phenomenon for independent musicians and music fans. Now in its third year, the contest lets artists submit videos of themselves performing an original song for a chance to win a Tiny Desk Concert of their own at NPR headquarters.
The previous contest winners enjoyed remarkable success since performing behind the Tiny Desk. Oakland's Fantastic Negrito just won a Grammy and Minnesota artist Gaelynn Lea's video received well over a million views.
Once again, we've dug through the 100-plus contest entries from Colorado and selected our favorites. Some artists are familiar. Some are new discoveries.
Watch and read about 11 memorable Colorado submissions below. And keep an eye out for the announcement of this year's winner in early March.
Holden Boyles: 'And Hollow Was The Soul'
Plenty of Tiny Desk Contest entries feature solo acoustic performances. But few are as captivating as Boyles' sparse "And Hollow Was The Soul." The heavy emotion in the singer's reverberated vocals makes it hard to turn away from this video.
The Outfit: 'Sex City'
These Denver rockers visited our studio last year with the release of their debut album on the Denver label Hot Congress. "Sex City" is a new song -- and perhaps the loudest entry featured here.
Tom Burchinal: 'Hold On'
The former frontman of Ithaca, N.Y., rock band Ayurveda now calls Colorado home. He offers up a fingerpicked folk song with a fireplace aglow in the background.
Rossonian: 'Joker Smile (Young Again)'
Rossonian didn't win last year's contest, but the judges at NPR Music were so impressed by the Denver band's video that they included it in a list of 10 runners-up. This 2017 entry is a solo performance from frontman Seth Evans.
Ivory Circle: 'Drown'
Ivory Circle slimmed down -- losing two members -- since playing in the CPR Performance Studio in 2014. The Denver band performs as an acoustic trio on "Drown," highlighted by the soaring vocals of Connie Hong in what appears to be a small attic space.
Tyler Van Kirk Orchestra: 'Standing'
"Orchestra" might be a bit of a misnomer, but Tyler Van Kirk does get a fairly full sound in this solo performance. His songs feature looped vocals, guitar and drum machine -- as do his Taylor Swift covers.
The Other Black: 'Rover'
Wes Watkins has played with so many Colorado groups -- Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Petals Of Spain and iZCALLi among them -- that it's easy to forget he also fronts this collective. Watkins is just barely in the shot here. He has to make room for 10 other musicians, after all.
Bay Bryan: 'Far Away'
This video is perhaps the most recognizably Coloradan submission here: Bryan plays in a small cave that acts as a natural echo chamber for his folk music.
Lauren Liberty Ives: 'Anymore'
The entry from this California transplant is a memorable kiss-off song about listening to your brain over your heart. Ives' earnest and playful vocal delivery hammers the point home.
Melissa Borer: 'Defiance'
Borer finds a country-folk groove for her twangy voice and strummed banjo here. The trio seems to have a lot of fun, and when it's over Borer can't help but crack up laughing.
Gora Gora Orkestar: 'Killer Robot'
Gora Gora Orkestar is not quite the largest band here. (See The Other Black above.) But Bob Boilen and his crew at NPR Music would still have their hands full fitting this collection of brass players and drummers behind the Tiny Desk. Then again, we think it would be worth the effort to hear songs like "Killer Robot" at NPR headquarters.
Check out more Tiny Desk Contest entries at NPR Music's website.
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