Robin Hilton

Robin Hilton is the producer and co-host for the popular NPR Music show All Songs Considered.

In addition to his work on All Songs, Hilton curates NPR Music's First Listen series, a weekly showcase of select albums you can read about and hear in their entirety before they're officially released.

Prior to joining NPR in 2000, Hilton co-founded Small Good Thing Productions, a non-profit production company for independent film, radio and music in Athens, GA.

Hilton lived and worked in Japan as an interpreter for the government, and taught English as a second language to junior high school students.

From 1989 to 1996, Hilton worked for NPR member stations KANU and WUGA as a senior producer and assistant news director and was a long-time contributing reporter to NPR's daily news programs All Things Considered and Morning Edition.

Hilton is also a multi-instrumentalist and composer. His original scores have appeared in work from National Geographic, Center Stage and in films, including the documentary Open Secret. Hilton also arranged and performed the theme for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered. You can hear more of his music here.

Along the way, Hilton worked as an emergency room orderly, a blackjack dealer and a fruitcake factory assembly lineman.

The best film scores walk a delicate line: They help propel the story, guide an audience's emotions and are also often a distinct character, with a role and voice as important as any actor's — but they also have to do all that without getting in the way, or drawing too much attention.

It's not unusual for film composers to make music out of organic sounds found in or related to the movie. Take Nathan Johnson's stunning Looper score which was built on a foundation of sampled clicks and pops that captured the film's steampunk creakiness. Or, more elementally, the typewriter rhythms Mark Mothersbaugh used for his Royal Tenenbaums score, emulating the film's anachronistic storytelling themes.

Sufjan Stevens is sharing a rare outtake he recorded while making his 2015 album Carrie & Lowell. The song, "Wallowa Lake Monster," is one of several previously unreleased tracks included in an upcoming collection of remixes, demos and alternate versions of songs from that period.

What songs – no matter how good or how adored they are – have been played to death and need to be removed from the canon? What songs are beyond reproach – songs so perfect and sublime they're given a free pass to remain in heavy rotation forever?

Tell us what you think. Below are ten suggestions; tell us if they should be retired or if they're simply untouchable. At the end of the poll you can also write-in your own picks.

It's hard to record a show like ours in the wake of a tragedy as profound as what happened in Las Vegas this past Sunday. But we hope the music we're sharing this week gives you time to reflect and, if needed, escape. One thing we know: Songs, in times like this, often take on new meaning.

Anyone who's seen Torres perform live (or listened to her 2015 sophomore Sprinter) knows what a confrontational force she is. She quietly rages, maybe seethes, on stage, with the kind of intensity that can leave fans both rattled and transfixed. It's like watching storm clouds rise and darken, captivated by their beauty while knowing that at any moment they could swirl out of control and turn into a full-blown cyclone.

Protomartyr doesn't make music for the casual listener. Over the course of four full-length albums, the Detroit-based band has produced a collection of lyrically dense, deeply philosophical (and usually very loud) songs that grapple with some of life's thorniest questions: What does it mean to be human? What is truth? What is the nature of good and evil?

Protomartyr lead singer and lyricist Joe Casey is, to say the least, a seeker — an existential traveler in search of a higher state of consciousness and meaning in an often callous, senseless world.

Composer Hans Zimmer and Radiohead have teamed up to reimagine the band's song "Bloom," taken from 2011's The King of Limbs. The new version, much slower and sparer than the original, has been retitled "ocean (Bloom)" and was recomposed to soundtrack the upcoming BBC documentary Blue Planet II.

Radiohead shared a trailer with the music this morning on Twitter.

"Open your mouth wide," sings Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke over stunning, underwater footage of sea life. "The universal sigh / And while the ocean blooms / It's what keeps me alive."

It's hard to think of an artist who's brought more joy to more people, across more generations — and in more ways — than Steve Martin. In the 1970s, he won the hearts of young children for his playful appearances with The Muppets while simultaneously charming legions of older fans with his subversive standup routines. Later, as an actor, he wrote and starred in some of the most memorable comedies (and a few dramas) of all time, while writing books, plays and even a Broadway musical.

In a posthumous new video for Leonard Cohen's "Leaving The Table," an animated paper cutout of the late singer dances and flies over a cityscape of Montreal, free as a bird, untethered from the mortal world.

Björk's latest song, like much of the Icelandic singer's work, is strangely seductive. "The Gate" heaves and sighs with spare arrangements of strings and woodwinds before expanding magnificently in a bloom of warped electronics that sound a lot like the work of dubstep artist Burial.

"I care for you" Björk trills, over and over. "Split into many parts / Splattered light beams into prisms that will reunite if you care for me."

Half-Light, the debut solo release from former Vampire Weekend producer and multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij, is one of the year's most arresting albums. Its breathtaking choral and string arrangements, idiosyncratic beats and intricate wordplay make it practically impossible to hear without giving it your undivided attention.

Few traumas in life feel as suffocating or isolating — or are as relatable — as enduring a broken heart. The shallow breaths and loneliness can be overwhelming. For Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan, it's not unlike a solo journey through the deepest, darkest reaches of space, or walking alone in an empty city.

Okovi, the latest full-length from Zola Jesus, is a monstrously tortured album, built with densely layered grief and pain. Nika Roza Danilova, who's been writing and recording as Zola Jesus since releasing her debut in 2009, bares her most vulnerable thoughts and feelings as she sings about serial killers, suicide, crushing depression and fear. At times, even Danilova admits the songs are hard to hear.

Singer Dave Matthews, who formed his band in Charlottesville, Va. in 1991, will host a benefit concert for the city following last month's violent protests there. Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande, Pharrell, Chris Stapleton, The Roots and Brittany Howard of The Alabama Shakes are slated to perform, along with other not-yet-named special guests.

After three years of trickling out singles, Beck has finally announced Colors, a new full-length due out this fall. His latest track, "Dear Life," channels Beach Boys harmonies and the barrel-house piano of classic Beatles songs like "Martha My Dear" or "Lady Madonna."

Grizzly Bear's new album, Painted Ruins, isn't overtly political — it isn't built on any easily identifiable observations of a troubled world. Still, at times it seems to speak directly to events that have unfolded in recent weeks, from the saddening violence in Charlottesville, Va. to political tensions with Russia and North Korea, thriving as it does on examinations of paranoia and fear of the unknown, of loneliness and isolation.

It's been a little over a month since Bob Boilen and I have sat together and shared some essential tunes, but we're back with some keepers, including a new, swoon-worthy song from singer Julien Baker and a beautifully infectious track from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

On Monday, we'll turn the All Songs Considered 24/7 stream into a giant mixtape to score the solar eclipse and we want your help. With the form below, tell us what song you'd listen to while watching the sun disappear behind the moon and day turn to night.

Wilco has released a new song against ignorance and violence in the wake of last weekend's unrest in Charlottesville, VA. The track, called "All Lives, You Say?" is a short country shuffle that takes aim at the slogan "All Lives Matter," designed as a counter-protest to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Tori Amos has always been a diviner with musical and spiritual roots deeply planted in the natural world, drawing both inspiration and metaphorical lessons from Mother Earth. In April, when she announced her next full-length, Native Invader, she called it an album that "looks to Nature and how, through resilience, she heals herself. The songs also wrestle with the question: 'What is our part in the destruction of our land, as well as ourselves, and in our relationships with each other?'"

Few singers can command an audience's attention quite like Albin Lee Meldau. When I first saw him perform, at a church in Austin, Texas during South By Southwest last March, it felt like the entire audience was on the edge of its seat, hanging on every twisted word. His voice is breathtaking, soulful, thunderous and impossible to ignore.

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