Cover image of Switched on Pop
(1622)

Rank #3 in Music Commentary category

Music
Music Commentary
Music Interviews

Switched on Pop

Updated 2 months ago

Rank #3 in Music Commentary category

Music
Music Commentary
Music Interviews
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What makes pop songs so catchy? Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work their magic on our ears & our culture. You’ll fall in love with music you didn’t even know you liked.

Read more

What makes pop songs so catchy? Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work their magic on our ears & our culture. You’ll fall in love with music you didn’t even know you liked.

iTunes Ratings

1622 Ratings
Average Ratings
1440
91
30
16
45

So fun and also a great way to learn

By MSakae - May 28 2020
Read more
Charlie and Nate host a show that is so entertaining and fun to listen to, and every time I learn new ways to appreciate music, and to see how interconnected all music styles are. Highly recommended!

My favorite podcast!

By Tyler GiGi - May 26 2020
Read more
Literally my favorite podcast. Hosts are amazing and content is educational and engaging

iTunes Ratings

1622 Ratings
Average Ratings
1440
91
30
16
45

So fun and also a great way to learn

By MSakae - May 28 2020
Read more
Charlie and Nate host a show that is so entertaining and fun to listen to, and every time I learn new ways to appreciate music, and to see how interconnected all music styles are. Highly recommended!

My favorite podcast!

By Tyler GiGi - May 26 2020
Read more
Literally my favorite podcast. Hosts are amazing and content is educational and engaging
Cover image of Switched on Pop

Switched on Pop

Latest release on Aug 04, 2020

Read more

What makes pop songs so catchy? Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work their magic on our ears & our culture. You’ll fall in love with music you didn’t even know you liked.

Rank #1: Doja Cat’s “Say So” is a Masterclass in Good Times

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Doja Cat has gatecrashed the Top 40 with her effervescent hit “Say So.” How did this Internet personality best known for a song whose chorus is “B***h, I’m a cow!” join the ranks of Dua Lipa, Drake, and The Weeknd? The answer involves a voice that careens from gentle soul to fierce rapping, a catchy chorus that grabs you from the first measure, and most importantly, interpolating the guitar patterns of Nile Rodgers, the secret sauce behind four decades of smash hits. 


Songs featured:

Doja Cat - Say So, Juicy, Fancy, Moo

Chic - Good Times

Sugarhill Gang - Rappers Delight

Diana Ross - I’m Coming Out

David Bowie - Let’s Dance

Daft Punk - Get Lucky

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Apr 21 2020

30mins

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Rank #2: Hotline Hello: Drake and Adele

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Drake and Adele are two megastars who may not seem to share much in common on the surface, but their recent hits exhibit some surprising parallels. Both revisit past relationships over the phone and both conceal inner anguish beneath subtle musical shifts. Featuring special appearances by the game Snake, Lord Byron and Drake and Adele themselves*, you don’t want to miss this episode. Plus, we check in with Justin Bieber as he completes his epic existential pop suite. For more songs about love on hold, check out our Spotify playlist. And check out Sean Rameswaram’s final episode of Sideshow on Studio 360. Featuring Drake – Hotline Bling Adele – Hello Timmy Thomas – Why Can’t We Live Together Justin Bieber – Sorry Jack Ü – Where Are Ü Now? Justin Bieber – What Do You Mean? Breakmaster Cylinder & Charlie Harding – Why Am I Here? *not really 

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Nov 04 2015

34mins

Play

Rank #3: Were We Wrong About Kanye West?

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A lot of people miss the old Kanye. The last time we reviewed his music was back in 2016 when he released the work-in-progress album “The Life Of Pablo.” Since then, Kanye has put out four albums: Ye, Kids See Ghost (with Kid Cudi), Jesus Is King, and Jesus Is Born (with the Sunday Service Choir). In the same period he’s also caused a media ruckus with his union to the Kardashian family and his foray into political punditry. His public persona has largely overshadowed his musical offerings. But what does the music communicate when we separate it from its messenger? We take the opportunity to listen with an open mind, especially to his most recent two albums. In the first half we examine his recent innovations as one of hip-hop’s best produced with the help of RapAnalysis.com’s Martin Connor. In the second half we speak with music industry veteran and gospel expert Naima Cochrane in order to place Kanye’s spiritual turn in a larger arch of gospel history. 


Songs Discussed

Kanye West - Follow God, Closed On Sunday, Father Stretch My Hands, Freestyle 4, Every Hour, Golddigger, Famous, Jesus Is Lord, I Thought About Killing You 

Fat’s Domino - The Fat Man

Run DMC - Walk This Way (ft. Aerosmith)

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Apr 14 2020

47mins

Play

Rank #4: The Deep History of '7 Rings'

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"7 Rings" is Ariana Grande's latest smash, a glittering banger that owes much to Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1959 classic "My Favorite Things." 60 years later, Grande updates the track for a modern audience, making her the latest artist to repurpose this anthem from the "Sound of Music." When it comes to Ari's flow, however, questions of appropriation arise. Author Lauren Michele Jackson joins to break down who has the right to repurpose sonic history.

Featuring:

• Ariana Grande - 7 Rings

• Julie Andrews - My Favorite Things

• John Coltrane - My Favorite Things

• The Doors - Light My Fire

• Lauryn Hill - Black Rage

• Migos - Bad and Boujee

• Princess Nokia - Mine

• Two Chainz - Spend It

• Soulja Boy - Pretty Boy Swag

Check out Lauren Michele Jackson's article, "To Whom Does '7 Rings' Owe its Sound?," hear more connections between Coltrane and the Doors in this NPR story, and discover the triplet Migos flow on Vox's Earworm.

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Jan 29 2019

39mins

Play

Rank #5: Billie Eilish is a Different Kind of Pop Star (ft. FINNEAS)

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On a trajectory to be one of the biggest pop stars for this generation, seventeen year old Billie Eilish is not, however, your typical pop star. Her music speaks to the real anxieties of young people without any veneer. She sings from the perspective of monsters and villains. Her hushed voice, baggy style, and direct demeanor subvert the norms of the pop princess. And her music is dark, but still catchy. Billie co-writes and produces her sound with her older brother Finneas O’Connell. Together this family duo have crafted the second biggest selling album of 2019, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”  On this episode, we examine how Billie and Finneas crafted a cultural phenomenon, why their message speaks to this generation, and we speak with Finneas about the creation of their hit song “Bad Guy.”

Songs Featured: Billie Eilish - Ocean EyesBillie Eilish - BoredBillie Eilish - You Should See Me In A CrownBillie Eilish - Bad GuyBillie Eilish - Bury A FriendMarilyn Manson - The Beautiful PeopleThe Doors - People Are StrangeNine Inch Nails - CloserBillie Eilish - ilomiloBillie Eilish - All Good Girls Go To HellBillie Eilish - XannyFrank Sinatra - Dream A DreamBillie Eilish - I love youJohn Carpenter - Halloween ThemeBillie Eilish - Bellyache Watch Billie Eilish and Finneas break down “Bury A Friend” on The New York Times

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Apr 09 2019

46mins

Play

Rank #6: Why is 90s Pop so Bizarre?

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The Switched on Pop Summer Throwback Series continues! This time, with a deep dive into the musical detritus of the 1990s.

In true 90s fashion, our episode is inspired by a pair of classic VH1 shows; "Behind the Music" and "Where Are They Now?"

Our subjects are two songs representing the lunatic fringe of 90s culture, "Cotton Eyed Joe" and "How Bizarre."

In the course of our musicological investigation, we uncover dark truths about these seemingly anodyne hits that will make you question everything you know about pop music.

And in the end, we reach a definitive answer to a perennially vexing question: "WTF was 90s music so weird?"

Songs Discussed

Rednex:

Cotton Eye Joe

Pop in an Oak

The Way I Mate

Cotton Eyed Joe:

Fiddlin John Carson

Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys

Karen Dalton

Chieftains

Nina Simone 

OMC:

How Bizarre

Right ON

Start making your summer hit track on Splice and check out our chord pack at splice.com/onpop-chords

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Jul 27 2018

49mins

Play

Rank #7: How Streaming Changed the Sound of Pop

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Streaming hasn't just changed the way we listen to music, it's changed the way that pop music sounds. After years of losses due to the death of the CD and the rise of file sharing, the music industry has finally found a profitable business in streaming services. Streaming has overtaken all other music sales. Digital music platforms are the new Virgin megastore. But these services are more than just a distribution mechanism, they have created a whole new music economy. Album sales have been replaced by "album equivalent units," a business fiction that equates 1,500 streams to one physical sale. Artists are now effectively paid by the song. With ad-supported and subscription based business models, these platforms have upended incentives so significantly that it can be heard in the songwriting. Songs are getting shorter, albums are getting longer, and there is an entirely new section of the song that draws from the classical past: the "pop overture." In this episode, Nate and Charlie are joined by Aisha Hassan and Dan Kopf to unpack the sound of pop in the streaming era.  Be sure to check out their article on Quartz: "The Reason Why Your Favorite Pop Songs Are Getting Shorter."

Songs FeaturedLil Pump - I Love ItBenny Blanco - Eastside ft. Khalid & HalseyKodak Black - Calling My SpiritPost Malone - Better NowLeonard Bernstein - West Side Story OvertureDua Lipa - One KissDrake - God’s PlanPost Malone - I Fall ApartAriana Grande - NasaTommy Dorsey - All The Things You Are

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Mar 12 2019

36mins

Play

Rank #8: ICYMI: Billie Eilish is a Different Kind of Pop Star (ft. FINNEAS)

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On a trajectory to be one of the biggest pop stars for this generation, seventeen year old Billie Eilish is not, however, your typical pop star. Her music speaks to the real anxieties of young people without any veneer. She sings from the perspective of monsters and villains. Her hushed voice, baggy style, and direct demeanor subvert the norms of the pop princess. And her music is dark, but still catchy. Billie co-writes and produces her sound with her older brother Finneas O’Connell. Together this family duo have crafted the second biggest selling album of 2019, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” On this episode, we examine how Billie and Finneas crafted a cultural phenomenon, why their message speaks to this generation, and we speak with Finneas about the creation of their hit song “Bad Guy.”


MORE

  • Watch Billie and Finneas break down “Bury A Friend” on The New York TimesBillie Eilish – Ocean Eyes
  • Billie Eilish – Bored
  • Billie Eilish – You Should See Me In A Crown
  • Billie Eilish – Bad Guy
  • Billie Eilish – Bury A Friend
  • Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People
  • The Doors – People Are Strange
  • Nine Inch Nails – Closer
  • Billie Eilish – ilomilo
  • Billie Eilish – All Good Girls Go To Hell
  • Billie Eilish – Xanny
  • Frank Sinatra – Dream A Dream
  • Billie Eilish – I love you
  • John Carpenter – Halloween Theme
  • Billie Eilish – Bellyache


MORE

Billie Eilish explained on Vox.com

Watch Billie and Finneas break down “Bury A Friend” on The New York Times

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Dec 31 2019

46mins

Play

Rank #9: Taylor Swift’s Beethovian Blank Space

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Taylor Swift’s Blank Space is about emptiness of the heart. This motif of Blank Space is contained through the entire piece: from the drums, to the melody, to the lyrics. We pull away the sonic structures to show how Taylor recreates that empty feeling and explores the predictable devolution of fiery romance.

FEATURING

Taylor Swift – Blank Space

NY Magazine – Why You Keep Mishearing That Taylor Swift Lyric

This episode first broadcast on the Very Loose Women podcast on Resonance 104.4FM

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Mar 26 2015

16mins

Play

Rank #10: ICYMI: Why is 90s Pop so Bizarre?

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Today we're revisiting an episode inspired by a pair of classic VH1 shows: “Behind the Music” and “Where Are They Now?”

Our subjects are two songs representing the lunatic fringe of 90s culture, “Cotton Eyed Joe” and “How Bizarre.”

In the course of our musicological investigation, we uncover dark truths about these seemingly anodyne hits that will make you question everything you know about pop music.

And in the end, we reach a definitive answer to a perennially vexing question: “WTF was 90s music so weird?”

Songs Discussed

Rednex:

Cotton Eye Joe

Pop in an Oak

The Way I Mate

Cotton Eyed Joe:

Fiddlin John Carson

Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys

Karen Dalton

Chieftains

Nina Simone

OMC:

How Bizarre

Right On

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Aug 27 2019

48mins

Play

Rank #11: How Beyoncé to The Beatles Modulate Your Emotions

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Certain pop songs have that moment, when everything seems to change but still remain the same, when the drama gets ratcheted up, when the tension increases and our emotions take an elevator ride to the heavens. From Beyoncé to Johnny Cash, savvy pop songwriters know a well-placed harmonic modulation can leave listeners reeling. But what is this mysterious musical trick, and how does it work? Tune in and let us take you higher, and higher, and higher, as we explore the wild world of modulation.

FeaturingOne Direction - Night ChangesTaylor Swift - Love StoryBackstreet Boys - I Want it That WayStevie Wonder - Knocks Me Off my FeetBeyonce - Love On TopWhitney Houston - I Will Always Love YouMozart - Queen of the Night AriaMichael Jackson - Man in the MirrorThe Beatles - Penny LaneJohnny Cash - Walk the Line

Hear more of Dru Cutler's work at www.drucutler.com

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Sep 09 2016

38mins

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Rank #12: Taylor Swift Causes a PANIC!

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When a listener asked us about the "sorcery" behind Taylor Swift's new song "ME!" we knew we had to investigate. And because the track features Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco, we couldn't resist digging into their concurrent hit "High Hopes." Along the way we cover baby talk, dreamy augmented chords, drumlines, and songs with exclamation points in their titles — all to explain why you can't get these two out of your head.

Featuring:

Taylor Swift featuring Brendon Urie - ME!

Swift - Shake it Off

Swift - The Way I Loved You

Gustav Mahler - Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder!

Shania Twain - Up!

Panic! At the Disco - High Hopes

Western Carolina University Drumline - High Hopes

Check out two great pieces on "High Hopes," one by Top 40 Theory and the other by Rolling Stone article citing Flypaper's Dean Olivet. 

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Apr 30 2019

41mins

Play

Rank #13: Lizzo And The End of Genre (with Sam Harris of X Ambassadors)

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On her new album, Cuz I Love You, Lizzo shows off her genre bending musicality. We speak with X Ambassadors lead singer, Sam Harris, who helped co-write three songs on the album, including its eponymous track. We discuss how Lizzo's songs glide across sixties soul, seventies rock rock, eighties new wave, and nineties hip-hop. But we find that her music is much more than a history lesson in genre. Lizzo's writes vulnerable and courageous lyrics about self love, body positivity, female empowerment, and black identity. Rather than craft a singular sound for her album, Lizzo utilizes the genre that best fits the message of any given song. Her subversion of genre to the mood of her lyric matches changes in music consumption. According to Chartmetric, more people than ever are listening across genres to context based playlists. Does this mean genre no longer matters? Nate and Charlie try to find out with the help of Lizzo's genre busting music.

Songs DiscussedLizzo - Better In ColorLizzo - Cuz I Love YouLizzo - JuiceLizzo - TempoMissy Elliott - Get Ur Freak OnLizzo - JeromeRadiohead - CreepLed Zeppelin - Royal OrleansPrince - When Doves CryLizzo - Exactly How I Feel (ft. Gucci Mane)Aretha Franklin - RespectAretha Franklin - Say A Little PrayerAretha Franklin - Chain Of FoolsAretha Franklin - I Knew You Were WaitingEurythmics ft. Aretha Franklin - Sisters Are Doin' It For ThemselvesListen to our Lizzo playlist that pairs each song on her new album with a song from the past.

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May 07 2019

51mins

Play

Rank #14: Rihanna Party! (with Gina Delvac)

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Last year, NPR Music ran an audacious headline: "Rihanna Is The 21st Century's Most Influential Musician." Millions and millions of fans the world over agree, and while we try to avoid overt expressions of pop favoritism, we think they’ve got a strong case. It’s for that reason and a dozen others that we were thrilled to welcome Gina Delvac of the hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend back to the show to discuss the legendary career of one Ms. Robyn Rihanna Fenty. As we all await her ninth studio album (R9), join us for a virtual* blunt-smoke-laced tour through the hit songs that defined her early sound, and a delectable deep dive into her most recent album, ANTI.

*Zero blunts were enjoyed at the time of recording.

Songs Discussed

  • Rihanna - Pon de Replay
  • Rihanna ft. Jay-Z - Umbrella
  • Rihanna - What’s My Name
  • Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris - We Found Love 
  • Rihanna - Cheers (Drink to That)
  • Rihanna - You Da One
  • Rihanna - B*tch Better Have My Money
  • Rihanna ft. Drake - Work
  • Rihanna ft. SZA - Consideration
  • Rihanna - Needed Me


Check out Jenny Gathright's NPR article “Rihanna Is The 21st Century's Most Influential Musician” here: https://www.npr.org/2018/08/15/638551793/rihanna-is-the-21st-centurys-most-influential-musician

And find even more work from our wonderful contributors this week down below:

Gina: http://ginadelvac.com/

Ivie: https://ivieani.contently.com/

Zoe: https://zoehaylock.com/

Cate: https://www.cate-young.com/

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Oct 29 2019

55mins

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Rank #15: Listening Differently to Lorde | with MARIAN HILL

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Samantha Gongol and Jeremy Lloyd are songwriting duo Marian Hill and they are here to share their annoyingly sharp insights on music. They come bearing the wistful pop of Lorde's "Ribs," and we deconstruct its primordial roots in classical composers like Scelsi, Beethoven and Haydn. Then, we turn to Marian Hill's new single "Differently" to uncover the subtle musical shifts that outline a complex dialogue lurking among the track's sparse, funky textures.

Songs Discussed:

Lorde - Ribs

Broken Social Scene - Lover's Spit

Giacinto Scelsi - Memories

Ludwig van Beethoven - 9th Symphony

Franz Josef Haydn - Creation

Kid Rock - All Summer Long

Miley Cyrus - Party in the USA

Marian Hill - Mistaken

Marian Hill - Differently

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Apr 19 2018

45mins

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Rank #16: Selena Gomez: Bad Liar, Psycho Songwriter

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Selena Gomez's "Bad Liar" stands out on the charts by doing things a little differently: it's a subtle, at times even awkward, summer surprise. Breaking down this pop morsel reveals it has teeth, though—and not just because it borrows a bass line from the Talking Heads' macabre "Psycho Killer." This is a fun one. Come along for the ride. 

Featuring:

• Selena Gomez - Bad Liar

• Julia Michaels - Issues

• Selena Gomez - Same Old Love

• Talking Heads - Psycho Killer

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Jul 13 2017

44mins

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Rank #17: 808s & Havana Heartbreak

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In Camila Cabello's "Havana" we hear both her Cuban roots and the modern sounds of Atlanta. Though the singer and featured guest Young Thug reference these two geographic identities, the song says so much more through its core musical elements. A Roland TR-808 kick drum evokes an entire repertoire of Atlanta Hip Hop, while the track's supporting piano montuno descends from a Cuban style lamenting the loss of one's traditional home. 

Also in this episode, we discuss Camila's unlikely path to number one with writer Hannah Steinkopf-Frank — and the musical glass ceiling that holds so many young women artists back.

RecommendationsSwitched On Pop recommends the podcast about sound: Twenty Thousand Hertz Hannah recommends the book: Girl Groups Girl Culture by Jacqueline WarwickCheck out more music and writing from Kwami Coleman at his websiteYou can listen to you playlist of 808s and Montunos on Spotify

Featured SongsCamila Cabello - HavanaTI - Whatever You Like2NE1 - I Am The BestMarvin Gaye - Sexual HealingMariah Carey, Jermaine Dupri - Always Be My BabyOutkast - So Fresh, So CleanLil Jon - Get LowGucci Mane ft. Migos - I Get The BagCompay Segundo - Guajira GuantanameraCuarteto Caney - Guajira GuantanameraBig Mama Thorton - Hound DogElvis - Hound DogLittle Mix & Missy Elliott- How Ya Doin?The Shangri Las - Leader Of The PackSleater-Kinney - I Wanna Be Your Joey RamoneSpice Girls - WannabeSpice Girls - Spice Up Your LifeThe Ronettes - Be My BabyThe Shirelles - Will You Love Me TomorrowTLC - No Scrubs

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Feb 22 2018

57mins

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Rank #18: Purple Lemonade: Prince & Beyoncé

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It has been a period of musical loss and celebration. On the same week we lost Prince, the world was gifted Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Both artists contain multitudes of musical traditions, collaborators and themes that weave throughout their song. In the first half of the show, we break down Beyoncé's “Hold Up,” an exemplary piece about Lemonade's main theme of marital distress. But the song is not as simple as it may seem. Its compositional restraint suggests more complex ideas about love. Speaking of love, Prince may have published more songs on the subject than any other recording musician. In the second half of the show, we speak with scholar and Musiqology contributor Matthew Valnes about Prince’s musical legacy. Featuring - Beyoncé - Pray You Catch Me - Beyoncé - Freedom - Beyoncé - Formation - Beyoncé - Love Drought - Beyoncé - Sorry - Beyoncé - All Night - Beyoncé - Daddy Lessons - Beyoncé - Hold Up - Major Lazer & DJ Snake - Lean On - Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps - Vampire Weekend - Obvious Bicycle - Beyoncé - Don’t Hurt Yourself - Prince - Musicology - Joshua Redman - How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore - Prince - How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore - Prince - When Doves Cry - Sly & The Family Stone - Thank You - Prince - Super Bowl Press Conference Performance - Marcus Miller - Jean Pierre (live at North Sea Jazz Festival) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7Q8Ual3coM You can read Matthew Valnes' article "When Doves Cry" over at Musiqology: http://musiqology.com/blog/2016/04/25/when-doves-cry-prince-and-black-popular-music-history/ Also check out Behind The Linear Notes’s latest episode on the history of the Castrati featuring a clip from our episode on One Direction: http://www.betweenthelinernotes.com/episodes-1/castrato

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May 05 2016

45mins

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Rank #19: What Makes An Award Winning Song?

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What if music awards were given out for only musical qualities? It may seem like celebrity and spectacle are more important than ever at the 61st Grammy Awards, but we believe many of this years winners earned their accolades with noteworthy music. Still, we thought the winners should be heralded by new, more musical categories. Find out how

And The Awards Go To:

Best Chord Progression: H.E.R. - "Hard Place" & "Focus"

Best Throwback: Silk City & Dua Lipa ft. Diplo & Mark Ronson - "Electricity"

Worst Metaphor: Lady Gaga ft. Bradley Cooper "Shallow"

Best Conceptual Song: Childish Gambino - "This Is America"

Best Bridge: Kacey Musgraves - "Rainbow"

Also Featured

The Weeknd - "Often"

Khalid - "Location"

Alison Limerick - "Where Love Lives"

Cher - "Strong Enough"

Elton John - "Mellow"

Bonus

Listen to Ezra Klein's discussion with Jill Lepore on America's two revolutions

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Feb 20 2019

41mins

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Rank #20: Searching for Max Martin

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The most omnipresent figure in pop music is also the most elusive: Karl Sandberg, AKA Max Martin, the mad Swedish genius who’s ruled the charts for 20 years. With the help of New Yorker writer John Seabrook, author of The Song Machine, and comedian Chris Duffy, host of You’re The Expert, we go deep into a 21st century pop classic to try and locate the secret formula behind Max Martin’s success. FEATURING Taylor Swift – Blank Space The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face Backstreet Boys – I Want It That Way Kelly Clarkson – Since You Been Gone Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps Kelly Clarkson – My Life Would Suck Without You Katy Perry – California Girls Taylor Swift – We Are Never Getting Back Together Ariana Grande – Problem N’Sync – It’s Gonna Be Me Britney Spears – Oops I Did It Again Taylor Swift – Bad Blood Icona Pop (ft. Charlie XCX) – I Love It Tove Lo – Talking Body Backstreet Boys – We’ve Got It Going On 

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Nov 19 2015

44mins

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Black Is King (ICYMI Beyoncé's Gift To Africa ft. Ivie Ani)

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Beyoncé' has released "Black Is King," a visual album based off of music that she released last year. We're rerunning that piece so that you can place the visual component of "Black Is King" in context to the music. For the live action remake of the Lion King, Beyoncé, (who voices Nala in the film), recorded and curated a companion soundtrack called The Gift. She worked with leading Afropop stars to expose the music of the continent to a global audience. In her piece, “Diversity Is in the Details: What Beyoncé’s ‘The Lion King: The Gift’ Gets Right and Wrong,” Okayplayer music editor Ivie Ani argues that the album highlights music while unintentionally treating the continent as a monolith. Ani joins Switched On Pop to break down this album and what it means for Afropop.


SONGS DISCUSSED

Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, Oumou Sangaré – MOOD 4 EVA

Oumou Sangaré – Diaraby Nen

Burna Boy – JA ARA

Fela Kuti – Water No Get Enemy

Fena, MDQ, Mayonde, Kagwe, Blinky Bill – PARTY NATION


BONUS

Listen to Blinky and Ivie’s East African playlist recommendations

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Aug 04 2020

39mins

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folklore: taylor swift's quarantine dream

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Taylor Swift has released folklore, her unexpected eighth studio album. It is an understated work that firmly puts celebrity gossip behind her (there are no who's-dating-who easter eggs to be found). Instead we're gifted Swift's greatest strength: songwriting. The lyrics blur "fantasy and reality." There are imagined teenage love trysts, recreated dynasties and intimate reflections on modern love. We break down the sounds and lyrics that make up Swift's strongest album yet.


SONGS DISCUSSED

Taylor Swift - the 1, illicit affairs, my tears ricochet, august, epiphany, cruel summer, this is my trying, hoax, peace, you belong with me, mirrorball, epiphany, our song, cardigan, the last great american dynasty, betty

The National - Light Years

Bon Iver - 666


BONUS

The correct term for the piano line is a "turn"

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Jul 28 2020

40mins

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The Women Reclaiming Nu-Metal ft. Rina Sawayama

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Nu-Metal, the mid 90s creation that blended metal, rap and pop, is one of the most critically derided pop genres. So it is strange that this genre is having a comeback. But whereas its first incarnation was dominated by men, now women are leading the way. Artists like Poppy, Grimes and Rina Sawayama have recast the heavy guitars, sung-rap lyrics and gaudy aesthetic to fight back the patriarchy.


SONGS DISCUSSED

  • Korn - Freak On A Leash
  • Rina Sawayama - STFU!
  • Limp Bizkit - Break Stuff
  • Poppy - I Disagree
  • Nine Inch Nails - Head Like A Hole
  • Grimes, Hana - We Appreciate Power
  • Rina Sawayama - XS
  • Britney Spears - Gimme More
  • Britney Spears - Toxic


MORE

Check out Finn McKenty's YouTube channel The Punk Rock MBA starting with his video on what killed Nu-Metal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATllyNXF3Kg&t

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Jul 21 2020

42mins

Play

Rosie: Investigating a Crime at the Heart of the Music Industry

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Listen closely to the start of the 2015 hit "Hey Mama" by David Guetta, Nicki Minaj, Afrojack, and Bebe Rexha and you'll hear voices intoning a chant: "Be my woman, girl, I'll be your man." It's sample from a 1948 recording called "Rosie," and it's the propulsive hook of "Hey Mama," driving the song to over a billion views on YouTube. The voices in the sample belong to CB Cook and ten other unidentified prisoners at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, aka Parchman Farm. These men never got credit for their work, even though it's been reused by everyone from Guetta to the Animals to Nina Simone. We investigate the story of "Rosie" to understand an inequity that lies at the heart of the music business and our national consciousness.

Songs Discussed

David Guetta ft Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha, and Afrojack - Hey Mama

CB Cook and Axe Gang - Rosie

The Animals - Inside Looking Out

Grand Funk Railroad - Inside Looking OUt

KRS-One - Sound of Da Police

Jay Z - Takeover

Nina Simone - Be My Husband

Check out Kembrew McLeod's and Peter DiCola's book Creative License to learn more about the law and culture of digital sampling.

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Jul 14 2020

28mins

Play

Song of Summer 2020: TikTok Jams, Protest Anthems, Breezy Bops & Bummer Bangers

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The 2020 song of summer competition is underway. We asked you for your favorite songs and put them in a head-to-head tournament. Find out which is the song for this very unusual summer. 


ROUND 1 - TikTok Jams

SAINt JHN - "Roses" Imanbek Remix 

Megan Thee Stallion - Savage Remix (Feat. Beyoncé)

The Weeknd - Blinding Lights


ROUND 2 - Protest Anthems

Beyoncé - Black Parade

Anderson .Paak - Lockdown 

YG - FTP


ROUND 3 - Breezy Bops

Dua Lipa - Physical

Chloe x Halle - Do It

Harry Styles - Watermelon Sugar


ROUND 4 - Bummer Bangers

Taylor Swift - Cruel Summer

Lana Del Rey - Summertime Sadness

HAIM - Up From A Dream

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Jul 07 2020

41mins

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The Many Colors of Lady Gaga’s ‘Chromatica’

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Lady Gaga’s 6th album is a conceptual release about a future that is neither utopian nor dystopian. Despite its sci-fi visuals, the album looks more to the past and present than the future. Chromatica gives us a world that sounds like 90s house music made for this summer’s cancelled Pride parties. It is lyrically somber, but musically upbeat, a productive tension that inspires hope. Gaga shared that she made this album to help her and her ‘little monsters’ dance through the pain. So we called on our listeners to dig up the most meaningful moments on the album and help us tour the world of Chromatica.

SONGS DISCUSSED

  • Lady Gaga - Chromatica I, 1000 Doves, Alice, Bad Romance, Stupid Love, Fun Tonight, Paparazzi, The Fame, Rain On Me, Since From Above, Babylon
  • Gwen McCray - All This Love
  • Cassius - Feeling For You
  • Avicci & Sebastien Drums - My Feelings For You


MORE

"Welcome To Chromatica" playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6nIb85jPqtjhjuOB3DUI49?si=Vy9LLNWcSAeih_V2Amq6Aw

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Jun 30 2020

35mins

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I Am America (w Shea Diamond and Justin Tranter)

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Shea Diamond has experienced so many facets of America as a black trans woman, and with songwriter Justin Tranter, she's woven those experiences into "I Am America," a blistering, funky anthem about community and belonging. Her track is also the theme song for the new HBO show "We're Here," which follows a team of a drag queens bringing drag shows to small towns across the country, challenging our assumptions about who makes up the "real America."

We sit down with Diamond and Tranter to discuss singing as preaching, what it means to release this track during Pride month, why the flat seventh hits so good, and how the horns on the song feature producer Eren Cannata's dad Richie on sax, making this bop a true family affair.

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Jun 30 2020

22mins

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Baz Luhrmann’s “Sunscreen Song” — The 90s’ Most Unlikely Hit (with Avery Trufelman)

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In 1999 filmmaker Baz Luhrmann released the song “Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen,” a 7-minute-long graduation speech set to downtempo electronic music. It was a highly unlikely hit that made its way across continents and eventually into the ears of a young Avery Trufelman via the album NOW That’s What I Call Music Volume 2. For over 20 years, Trufelman has applied the song’s advice to her daily life: “wear sunscreen… be nice to your siblings… do one thing every day that scares you.” This unusual song has left a lasting impression, and yet for Trufelman, it makes no sense that “The Sunscreen Song” was commercially successful. We investigate the song’s many architects — novelist Kurt Vonnegut, Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich and Baz Luhrmann himself — to unpack one of the internet’s first conspiracy theories that turned into Billboard’s greatest outlier. 


SONGS DISCUSSED

Baz Luhrmann - Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

Think - Once You Understand


MORE

The BBC documentary on “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3cszvtr

Another speech set to music, Byron MacGregor/Gordon Sinclair’s “Americans,” peaked at #4 in 1974

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Jun 23 2020

52mins

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Jacob Collier on staying creative and his 646 track song “All I Need”

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Quarantined in his family’s music room, musician Jacob Collier has been remarkably productive. Known for his polymathic musical talents, Collier has used this time to reflect on, and release new music. His latest song “All I Need,” was created with new technology that let him record remotely with his collaborators Mahalia and Ty Dolla $ign. The song is uplifting. It modulates into arcane keys that evoke the euphoria of newfound love. Collier’s also been convening live streams with artists like Tori Kelly and Chris Martin where Collier seemingly defies the laws of physics to collaborate, in time, over long-distance video chat. Collier is a hopeful voice, demonstrating how music can boost our spirits in dark times.

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Jun 19 2020

35mins

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What it means to make music in 2020

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The pandemic has upended the art and business of making music. Producing, performing and releasing — every aspect is new and uncharted. The need for social distancing means that it’s unsafe to collaborate in small studios or perform for large crowds — not to mention finding the right thing to sing about in such a charged moment. We’re telling three stories about how artists are working within these constraints: Ricky Reed and John-Robert have found a way to generate a creative spark remotely, Jacob Collier has defied the laws of physics to master live performance over the internet, and Dua Selah has released a powerful new track that helps support the protests in Minneapolis. Everything is radically different than it was a few months ago, but these stories shine a light on why making music matters more than ever in 2020. 


SONGS DISCUSSED

Lizzo - Juice

John-Robert, Ricky Reed, Zach Sekof - Favorite Boy

Bill Withers - Lean On Me performed by Ty Dolla Sign & Jacob Collier

Jacob Collier - All I Need

D’Angelo - Feel Like Making Love

Stevie Wonder - You And I performed by Tori Kelly and Jacob Collier

Dua Saleh - Body Cast

Dua Saleh - Sugar Mama

Dua Saleh - Moth

Dua Saleh - Smut

Sister Rosetta Tharp - This Little Light Of Mine


MORE

Watch Nice Live on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC24tNtu1NuD9yZ9t2YUATIQ

Dua Saleh's "Body Cast" BandCamp campaign: https://duasaleh.bandcamp.com/track/body-cast

Listen to Dua Saleh's new album Rosetta: https://duasaleh.bandcamp.com/album/rosetta

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Jun 16 2020

35mins

Play

Big Floyd And The Influence Of Houston Chopped N Screwed Music

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In a Rolling Stone article titled “He Shook The World: George Floyd’s Legendary Houston Legacy”, writer Charles Holmes reveals the musical past of the man who has become an international symbol for justice since his murder. Known as “Big Floyd” in his Houston community, he was part of the city’s Screwed Up Click, a hip-hop collective centered around the now-legendary producer DJ Screw. This underground scene created a style of slowed-down “chopped and screwed” hip-hop that seeped into mainstream hip-hop, and has even been appropriated by bubblegum Top 40. In this episode we unpack how this chopped and screwed sound took over pop and shine a light on George Floyd’s involvement with the Screwed Up Click.


MORE

Read Charles Holmes’ Rolling Stone article: '”He Shook the World': George Floyd's Legendary Houston Legacy


SONGS DISCUSSED

  • DJ Screw - Sittin On Top Of The World ft. Big Floyd
  • Mike Jones - Still Tippin’
  • Mikes Jones - Back Then
  • Chamillionaire - Ridin
  • Chamillionaire - Roll Call
  • Paul Wall - Sittin Sidewayz
  • Nelly - Grillz ft Paul Wall
  • Kanye West, Paul Wall - Drive Slow
  • Drake - November 18th
  • A$AP Rocky - Purple Swag
  • The Weeknd - Initiation
  • Beyoncé - Bow Down
  • THE SCOTTS - THE SCOTTS
  • Travis Scott - Sicko Mode
  • Travis Scott - R.I.P. Screw
  • DJ Screw - In The Air Tonight
  • E.S.G. DJ Screw - Swangin and Bangin
  • DJ Screw - Screwed Up Click - Red pt 2
  • DJ Screw - 3 In The Morning
  • DJ Screw - June 27th Freestyle
  • DJ Screw and Lil’ Keke - Pimpin Tha Pen

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Jun 09 2020

32mins

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Carly Rae Jepsen: Meeting The Muse

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They say you should never meet your idols, that you’ll only be disappointed. We had this possibility in mind going into our first interview with Carly Rae Jepsen, the pop star who inspired us to start our podcast Switched on Pop when Nate taught “Call Me Maybe” as a case study in music theory. Six years later and hundreds of pleading emails later, the time had come to meet the muse and unpack her latest offering, Dedicated Side B. In the course of composing her last two albums, E•MO•TION and Dedicated, Jepsen wrote over 200 songs. Many of her favorite works didn’t make it on either final album, so she’s started a tradition of releasing “Side B” records on the one-year anniversary of her last release. Her newest collection of unreleased music fluidly crosses decades of musical history and spans a vast emotional range. We spoke with Jepsen over Zoom about how she curated her latest B-Side release from a massive body of work. Would this beatific figure, once described by poet Hanif Abdurraqib and the “most honest pop musician working,” live up to her reputation? Listen to find out.


SONGS DISCUSSED

  • Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe, Julien, Party For One, Now That I’ve Found You, No Drug Like Me, Want You In My Room, Cut To The Feeling, Run Away With Me, Window, This Love Isn’t Crazy, Solo
  • Squeeze - Tempted By The Fruit
  • Irving Berlin - God Bless America performed by Kate Smith
  • Vulfpeck - Back Pocket

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May 26 2020

42mins

Play

Why lo-fi is the perfect background music

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Lo-Fi hip-hop has emerged as a hugely popular genre and internet subculture. Its millions of loyal fans rely on curated lo-fi playlists and live-streams to write to, study to and even fall asleep to. Heck, we even wrote a good chunk of our book to Spotify’s lo-fi beats playlists. There’s just something about those ambient, spacey, plodding beats that place us in a state of determined zen. But what of its musical roots? Who are its stars? And why, despite its mass following on YouTube, Spotify and elsewhere, is it nearly impossible to spot on the Billboard? We trace lo-fi from its godfathers to its moments in the sun, to the complex creative ecosystem playing out on streaming platforms today.


MORE

You can find music from this episode on this week’s Spotify playlist

Sign up for Cherie Hu’s newsletter Water & Music that sent us down the lo-fi hip hop rabbit hole

Check out Seneca B on Spotify:

Check out weird inside on Spotify

Check out eevee on Spotify


SONGS DISCUSSED

Brenky - Bye

Brenky - People

J Dilla ft. Common, D’Angelo - So Far To Go

Isley Brothers - Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time For Love), Pts. 1&2

Charlatan - Wasted Jazz

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May 19 2020

37mins

Play

Eurovision Lives! (with Netta)

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Like many events, the international song competition Eurovision 2020 has been canceled. Sadly, there will be no champion crowned this year... or will there?! Charlie and Nate comb through the emotional, the catchy, and the downright bizarre entries, then—with some help from our audience and 2018 Eurovision winner Netta—pick the best song in all the land. Come for the Lithuanian moose dance, stay for the unshakeable power of pop glory in a world gone mad.

Songs discussed

Netta - Toy

Netta - Ricki Lake

Senhit - FREAKY!

Tornike Kipiani - Take Me as I am

Go-A - Solovey

Efendi - Cleopatra

Gjon’s Tears - Repondez-moi

The Roop - On Fire

Dadi Freyr - Think About Things

Roxen - Alcohol You

Little Big - Uno

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May 12 2020

42mins

Play

How To Soundtrack A Villain: Killing Eve

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When BBC America reached out to do a piece about the music of Killing Eve, we jumped at the opportunity. The series antagonist, Villanelle, is an unpredictable assassin. On a dime she shifts from cold and calculating to child-like and jocular. Her personality swings are accompanied by a captivating psychedelic pop soundtrack. Whether you are familiar with the series or not, this no spoilers episode breaks down music from the 1960s that has earned its place on primetime. 

SPONSORED BY BBC AMERICA

Songs Discussed

  • Unloved - We Are Unloved 
  • Psychotic Beats - Killer Shangri-:ah
  • The Ronettes - Walking In The rain
  • The Beatles - Strawberry Fields
  • Brigitte Bardot - Contact
  • Betty Hutton - It’s Oh So Quiet
  • Björk - It’s Oh So Quiet
  • Jo Stafford - Some Enchanted Evening
  • Duke Ellington - Skin Deep
  • Roxette - Listen To Your Heart
  • Jacqueline Taieb - La Plus Belle Chanson
  • The Beatles - Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!


Support explainer journalism — all things pop included — by making a contribution to Vox today: Visit bit.ly/givepodcasts.

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May 05 2020

39mins

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Did Fiona Apple Just Release a Perfect Album?

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Since 1996, Fiona Apple has only ever had one hit, “Criminal.” Nonetheless, every album she’s released has been nominated for a Grammy. Her newest work, Fetch The Bolt Cutters, has received near universal acclaim. Apple’s songs are simultaneously idiosyncratic and relatable, tackling unusual themes for pop songs: middle school bullies, uncomfortable dinner conversation, toxic masculinity and female friendship. Apple accompanies her idiosyncratic lyrics with homemade percussion and only minimal piano. The final product is on the borderline between crafted composition and impromptu improvisation. It is this duality which makes the work relatable and timeless. Her two song suite “I Want You To Love Me” and “Shameika” have connections to Beethoven, Yeats, and Patti Smith, which we break down in the first half. And listeners call in during the second half to share what moved them about the album. 

Songs Discussed

  • Fiona Apple - Fast As You Can, Criminal, Under The Table, I Want You To Want Me, Shameika, Fetch The Bolt Cutters, Ladies, Heavy Balloon 
  • Beethoven - Moonlight Sonata
  • Patti Smith - Gloria: In Excelsis Deo
  • Van Morrison - Gloria


Support explainer journalism — all things pop included — by making a contribution to Vox today: Visit bit.ly/givepodcasts.


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Apr 28 2020

35mins

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Doja Cat’s “Say So” is a Masterclass in Good Times

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Doja Cat has gatecrashed the Top 40 with her effervescent hit “Say So.” How did this Internet personality best known for a song whose chorus is “B***h, I’m a cow!” join the ranks of Dua Lipa, Drake, and The Weeknd? The answer involves a voice that careens from gentle soul to fierce rapping, a catchy chorus that grabs you from the first measure, and most importantly, interpolating the guitar patterns of Nile Rodgers, the secret sauce behind four decades of smash hits. 


Songs featured:

Doja Cat - Say So, Juicy, Fancy, Moo

Chic - Good Times

Sugarhill Gang - Rappers Delight

Diana Ross - I’m Coming Out

David Bowie - Let’s Dance

Daft Punk - Get Lucky

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Apr 21 2020

30mins

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Were We Wrong About Kanye West?

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A lot of people miss the old Kanye. The last time we reviewed his music was back in 2016 when he released the work-in-progress album “The Life Of Pablo.” Since then, Kanye has put out four albums: Ye, Kids See Ghost (with Kid Cudi), Jesus Is King, and Jesus Is Born (with the Sunday Service Choir). In the same period he’s also caused a media ruckus with his union to the Kardashian family and his foray into political punditry. His public persona has largely overshadowed his musical offerings. But what does the music communicate when we separate it from its messenger? We take the opportunity to listen with an open mind, especially to his most recent two albums. In the first half we examine his recent innovations as one of hip-hop’s best produced with the help of RapAnalysis.com’s Martin Connor. In the second half we speak with music industry veteran and gospel expert Naima Cochrane in order to place Kanye’s spiritual turn in a larger arch of gospel history. 


Songs Discussed

Kanye West - Follow God, Closed On Sunday, Father Stretch My Hands, Freestyle 4, Every Hour, Golddigger, Famous, Jesus Is Lord, I Thought About Killing You 

Fat’s Domino - The Fat Man

Run DMC - Walk This Way (ft. Aerosmith)

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Apr 14 2020

47mins

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Aussie2Aussie: 5SOS on Tame Impala (with Luke Hemmings & Calum Hood)

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The band 5 Seconds Of Summer have just released their fourth studio album, Calm. Lead vocalist Luke Hemmings and bassist Calum Hood join us to talk about some of Australia’s biggest hits. In the first half of our conversation we discuss the catchy rhythms and vocals in Tame Impala’s song “Borderline,” a song driven more by vibe than conventional structures. Then on side B, 5SOS break down their new single single “Wildflower” and its countless 80s references. One sound in particular, the “stab” or “orchestral hit” in "Wildflower's" chorus, truly evokes the 80s. The song’s producer, Rami Yacoub, had used the sound before on Britney Spears “Lucky,” as had 100s of other artists who first got their hands on this sample from an Australian inventor who forever changed the sound of music.

Songs Discussed

  • 5 Seconds Of Summer - Youngblood
  • 5 Seconds Of Summer - Who Do You Love
  • 5 Seconds Of Summer - Lie To Me (ft. Julia Michaels) 
  • AC/DC - Highway To Hell
  • Midnight Oil - Beds Are Burning 
  • Tame Impala - Same Ol Mistakes 
  • Tame Impala - Borderline
  • Post Malone - Circles
  • Slipknot - Before I Forget 
  • Massive Attack - Teardrop 
  • Tom Petty - Wildflowers
  • 5 Seconds Of Summer - Wildflower 
  • Fleet Foxes - Ragged Wood
  • Cindy Lauper - Time After Time
  • Oasis - Wonderwall
  • INXS - Need You Tonight
  • Talk Talk - It’s My Life
  • Tears for Fears - Everybody Wants To Rule The World
  • Enya - Orinoco Flow
  • Stravinsky - Firebird Suite
  • Afrika Bambaataa- Planet Rock
  • Pet Shop Boys - Always On My Mind
  • Britney Spears - Lucky 
  • 5 Seconds Of Summer - Red Desert 


More

Estelle Caswell’s Earworm Video on Peter Vogel’s Fairlight CMI and her playlist of Orchestral Hits

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Apr 07 2020

37mins

Play

The (murder) Ballad of Joe Exotic “Tiger King” (with Robert Moor)

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Scandal and intrigue surround Joe Exotic, the central character of the new Netflix documentary Tiger King. Among the many bizarre traits of this zoo keeper, Exotic tries his hand at country music. Interspersed throughout the series, Joe sings about his love of big cats as well as his hatred for his nemesis in a gruesome murder ballad. But it turns out that amongst his many lies, Exotic’s country career may be yet another fabrication. Charlie speaks with journalist Robert Moor, host of the podcast Joe Exotic: Tiger King about who’s really behind the music. 


Songs Discussed

  • Joe Exotic - I Saw A Tiger
  • Vince Johnson Band - He’s Loving You
  • Jake Owen - Down To The Honkytonk 
  • Lonestar - My Front Porch Looking In
  • Joe Exotic - Here Kitty Kitty
  • Spindrift - Speak To The Wind
  • Johnny Cash - Long Black Veil
  • Joe Exotic - This Is My Life
  • George Straight - Living For The Night
  • Sean Watkins - I Saw A Tiger


More

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Apr 05 2020

37mins

Play

iTunes Ratings

1622 Ratings
Average Ratings
1440
91
30
16
45

So fun and also a great way to learn

By MSakae - May 28 2020
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Charlie and Nate host a show that is so entertaining and fun to listen to, and every time I learn new ways to appreciate music, and to see how interconnected all music styles are. Highly recommended!

My favorite podcast!

By Tyler GiGi - May 26 2020
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Literally my favorite podcast. Hosts are amazing and content is educational and engaging