15 Essential Music Longreads From The New Yorker

Lovers of great music writing rejoice.

This week, as a part of a broad digital relaunch, the New Yorker made everything in its archives dating back to 2007 available for free online. Just like that, a trove of previously restricted articles and essays by some of the best writers in the world can be picked freely, loosed from the fortified constraints of a subscriber paywall like apples from an overturned apple cart.

We combed through the bumper crop and pulled out 15 of the best music stories produced by the esteemed journalistic institution over the last seven years. Save, fave and peruse them now — the archival free-for-all only lasts until the fall, when a new paywall will go up.

1. “You Belong With Me” by Lizzie Widicombe (2011)

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

The reign of Taylor Swift.

2. “Where’s Earl?” by Kelefa Sanneh (2011)

Sanneh tracks down Odd Future prodigy Earl Sweatshirt, then mysteriously marooned at a teenage bootcamp in Samoa.

3. “The Doctor Is In” by John Seabrook (2013)

Ian Gavan / Getty

The weird and crazily lucrative world of pop music mastermind Dr. Luke.

4. “The Song Machine” by John Seabrook (2012)

Stephane Mahe / Reuters

Behind the scenes with Ester Dean and Stargate, the songwriter and producers responsible for Rihanna’s hits.

5. “Harlem Chic” by Kelefa Sanneh (2013)

Larry Busacca / Getty

The enduring legacy of ’80s hip-hop fashion innovator Dapper Dan.

6. “Teen Titan” by Lizzie Widicombe (2012)

Scooter Braun, the man responsible for Justin Bieber’s career, enters the spotlight.

7. “Let’s Dance” by Sasha Frere-Jones (2010)

Rachel Murray / Getty

The life and times of LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy.

8. “Man of Many Hats” by Kelefa Sanneh (2010)

Frazer Harrison / Getty

Brad Paisley’s country music contradictions.

9. “Night Club Royale” by Josh Eels (2013)

Backstage with Afrojack and Las Vegas’s dance music explosion.

10. “Badass American” by Kelefa Sanneh (2012)

Jim Young / Reuters

The evolution of Kid Rock.

11. “Shy and Mighty” by John Colapinto (2014)

The rise of moody R&B tinkerers The xx.

12. “Mastersinger” by Alex Ross (2013)

The unlikely dominance of a Kansas-bred opera singer Joyce DiDonato.

13. “New York Is Killing Me” by Alec Wilkinson (2010)

Anna Webber / Getty

At home with the late, great poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron.

14. “The Rhythm in Everything” by Burkhard Bilger (2012)

Rick Diamond / Getty

What Questlove means to late night television.

15. “Revelations” by Kelefa Sanneh (2010)

Jemal Countess / Getty

Talking with Tonéx, the first gospel star to come out of the closet.

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