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Best Global Music Of 2014

Stromae's Racine Carrée (Square Root) is one of NPR Music's picks for our favorite international releases of 2014. (Courtesy of the artist)closemore
Stromae's Racine Carrée (Square Root) is one of NPR Music's picks for our favorite international releases of 2014. (Courtesy of the artist)

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.

Hassan Hakmoun, Unity (x)
Hassan Hakmoun, Unity (x)

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.

Copyright NPR 2016.

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