Marissa Lorusso

Frances Quinlan showed up to NPR HQ in Washington, D.C., in February, just after Presidents' Day — which explains her multiple mid-performance jokes about White House residents. But even if her Tiny Desk concert had happened in July, the allusions wouldn't have surprised me. As a songwriter, Quinlan is piercingly astute at making connections between her present reality and the wider world; her songs often narrate other stories she's heard, fictional or real, from a place of wide-eyed empathy.

Like many who have graced the Tiny Desk before him, the awkwardness of performing in a working office wasn't lost on Harry Styles. "It just feels like you're in the way," he joked. But when you watch his set from behind Bob Boilen's desk, you'd never suspect any discomfort.

From the moment Carly Rae Jepsen arrived at NPR HQ for her Tiny Desk concert, she brought an obvious sense of joy. Take, for example, her sound check: Working with her band of longtime collaborators, she seemed downright delighted, beaming at the musicians as she gave notes after each meticulous run-through.

Like any good live show, Tiny Desk concerts tend to generate a lot of feelings. With no fancy lights or extra amplification — just performers and a crowd, with hardly any distance between them — emotions can run high.

After Camp Cope's second song at the Tiny Desk, singer Georgia "Maq" McDonald let out a tiny laugh. "We've never done this before — we've never been quiet," she said. "Not once in our entire lives!" Bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich joked that it was perhaps a "good lesson" to "rock out in your mind." ("Thinking," Maq clarified.)

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