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(1383)

Rank #26 in Music category

Music
Music Commentary
Music Interviews

Switched on Pop

Updated 3 days ago

Rank #26 in Music 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

1383 Ratings
Average Ratings
1236
78
22
10
37

My Dad Loves it!

By Vfd42 - Nov 15 2019
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I love how they can take a Janelle Monae song to a Michael Jackson song to a muddy waters song. That blew my mind, pretty much every episode has one good mind blown moment. And the Lizzo episode changed my life. Also my dad has been a deep music lover for decades and this podcast has started so many conversations for us.

Review Request

By Aanish Raees - Jun 29 2019
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I absolutely love this podcast! PLEASE DO AN EPISODE ON Traffic from ANIMA by Thom Yorke!

iTunes Ratings

1383 Ratings
Average Ratings
1236
78
22
10
37

My Dad Loves it!

By Vfd42 - Nov 15 2019
Read more
I love how they can take a Janelle Monae song to a Michael Jackson song to a muddy waters song. That blew my mind, pretty much every episode has one good mind blown moment. And the Lizzo episode changed my life. Also my dad has been a deep music lover for decades and this podcast has started so many conversations for us.

Review Request

By Aanish Raees - Jun 29 2019
Read more
I absolutely love this podcast! PLEASE DO AN EPISODE ON Traffic from ANIMA by Thom Yorke!

Listen to:

Cover image of Switched on Pop

Switched on Pop

Updated 3 days ago

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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.

A Brief History of Men Singing Really High

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Men singing high is so ubiquitous in modern pop that we might take it granted, never pausing to ask: has it always been this way? Estelle Caswell, who makes the Emmy-winning Earworm series for Vox, decided to find out, and she stops by to share results from her painstaking study of male falsetto in pop music from 1958 to today. Some of her findings may surprise, like 1996 was the peak year for falsetto, Justin Timberlake doesn't sing as you high at might think, and falsetto has been around as long as pop itself. 

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Oct 15 2019

46mins

Play

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

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

Why U Love 2 Listen 2 Prince (with Anil Dash)

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Anil Dash is obsessed with Prince. Since he’s the host of the tech podcast Function, he has a unique perspective on the Purple One’s complicated relationship with technology. Anil joins the show to break down the many ways that Prince predicted the sound and science of modern pop, from drum machines to online distribution to internet culture. We’ll discuss how Michael Jackson jacked Prince’s electronic experimentation for Thriller, why Prince liked to lurk in fan chat rooms, and how he found ways to change his sound without ever sacrificing his integrity. We’re only beginning to understand Prince’s legacy, but Anil takes us one step closer to fully appreciating the ahead-of-their-time talents of a once-in-a-century artist. 

Songs featured:

  • Prince - 1999
  • Kraftwerk - The Robots
  • Talking Heads - Once in a Lifetime
  • Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - The Message
  • The Human League - Don’t You Want Me Baby
  • Prince - Little Red Corvette
  • Michael Jackson - Thriller
  • Santana ft. Rob Thomas - Smooth
  • Prince ft. Eve - Hot Wit U
  • Prince ft. Ani Difranco - Eye Love U, But Eye Don’t Trust U Anymore
  • Prince - How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore
  • Prince - Black Sweat
  • Prince - THIS COULD BE US

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Oct 22 2019

34mins

Play

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

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

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

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

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

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

Play

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

Play

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

Play

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

Play

The Puzzle of Ariana Grande's "Into You" (with K. Flay)

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"Into You" was one of the biggest hits of 2016, the stellar production of reclusive legend Max Martin combining with the acrobatic vocals of Ariana Grande to create an undeniable, ubiquitous earworm. With "Into You" still burning up the charts, we dive deep to uncover the insane puzzles, Trompe-l'oiel tricks and Baroque games that lie under the surface of this morsel of pop perfection.

PLUS, brilliant rocker and rapper K. Flay joins to discuss the mysteries of Ariana Grande and takes us through the composition of her own, bass-heavy anthem of catharsis, "Blood in the Cut."

Featuring

• Ariana Grande - Into You 

• K Flay - Blood in the Cut

• Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive

• J.S. Bach - A little hocket example

• Ariana Grande - Dangerous Woman

• The Chainsmokers - Closer

• The Rolling Stones - Can't Get No Satisfaction

• The Rolling Stones - Paint It Black

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Jan 27 2017

49mins

Play

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

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

Play

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

Play

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

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

Play

Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal

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Host Charlie spent the last two weeks listening to every song on the Billboard Hot 100. What did he discover? That the sonic similarities of most chart-toppers sound closer than ever. Except for the #1 song in America, as of this episode's release - "Closer" by The Chainsmokers, ft. Halsey. This one is different than the rest...or is it? We dive into the styles of the moment to re-learn the old maxim that "great artists steal" - whether that artist is a 2016 DJ duo or an 18th century Classical master. 

Featuring:

•Tory Lanez - LUV

•Shawn Mendes - Treat You Better

•Frenship - Capsize

•Maroon 5 - Don't Wanna Know

•Cheat Codes - Sex

•The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey - Closer

•Charlie Puth ft. Selena Gomez - We Don't Talk Anymore

•Jack U ft. Justin Bieber - Where Are U Now

•Drake - Know Yourself

•Amine - Caroline

•MO - Final Song

•Mike Posner - I Took a Pill in Ibiza (Seeb remix)

•The Weeknd - I Can't Feel My Face

•The Chainsmokers ft. Phoebe Ryan - All We Know

•Antonio Vivaldi - "La Primavera" Concerto

•Vivaldi - Giustino

•Vivaldi - Dorilla in Tempe

•Vivaldi - Orlando Furioso

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Oct 20 2016

45mins

Play

Prelude & Feud on a 'G' Thang: Biggie vs Tupac

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The East Coast / West Coast hip hop feud between Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls is full of tragedy and conspiracy, but what did it really sound like? For the third season of of the hit podcast Slow Burn, host Joel Anderson and producer Christopher Johnson dig up untold stories about this infamous rivalry, and they join Nate and Charlie to break down boom bap, G Funk, and the surprising points of overlap between two titans of rap.

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Dec 03 2019

45mins

Play

Pop is the Sound We Need Right Now (with Electric Guest)

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Electric Guest (Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton) take a left turn towards pop on “Dollar" — a song about making more out of less, something too many people find themselves to do right now. The music follows the same principle, turning cheap synths and canned horns into a symphony of sound. We chat with Asa about how the track — equally inspired by Stevie Wonder and Bertolt Brecht —came to be and why pop can be a balm in dark times.


Songs Featured

Electric Guest - Dollar

Stevie Wonder - Uptight (Everything's Alright)

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Nov 26 2019

41mins

Play

The Past, Present, and Future of EMO (with Allegra Frank)

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Nate doesn’t know much about the musical style known as emo. Sadly, he was too busy nerding out on jazz during his youthful years to catch the moment. That’s a shame, because emo is experiencing a revival right now - most surprisingly within the world of hip hop. All of which leaves Nate in the awkward position of not really having any idea what’s going on, so thank goodness for some schooling by Vox culture reporter Allegra Frank, who spent her teenage years the right way: getting emotional to the soundtrack of emo. Her first lesson about this endlessly fascinating subculture? It’s way more than just a sound. 


Songs discussed:

Sunny Day Real Estate - Seven

Jawbreaker - Do You Still Hate Me?!

My Chemical Romance - I’m Not Okay (I Promise)

Fall Out Boy - Sugar, We’re Goin Down

Panic! At the Disco - I Write Sins not Tragedies

Jimmy Eat World - Lucky Denver Mint

Jimmy Eat World - A Praise Chorus

Jimmy Eat World - The Middle

American Football - Never Meant

Foxing - Lich My Prince 

The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die - Heartbeat in the Brain


Check out more of Allegra’s work here: https://www.vox.com/authors/allegra-frank

And learn more about Tom Mullen and Washed Out Emo here: http://www.washedupemo.com/about

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Nov 19 2019

53mins

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When Pop and Classical Collide (with James Bennett II)

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Once upon a time, classical music was pop, so today it's worth stepping back and asking: where does one genre stop and the other begin? Can classical ever be popular again? And why do only some classical tracks makes for good samples? Luckily James Bennett II of classical station WQXR is on hand to break down these and other musical conundrums, including but not limited to: killer opera clowns, Bach hip hop hybrids, and the namesake album of this very podcast.

Songs discussed:

Dessa and the Minnesota Orchestra - Chaconne

Enrico Caruso - Vesti la Giubbia

Mario Lanza - Because You’re Mine

Wendy Carlos - Prelude and Fugue in C Minor

Jackie Evancho - Nessun Dorma

Jackie Evancho - Burn

Lindsay Stirling - Underground

Vitamin String Quartet - Shallow

Florence Price - Symphony 1

Nas - I Can

Black Eyed Peas - Back 2 Hip Hop

Victoria - Impropreia

Kanye West - Gone


Check out more of James's writing here: https://www.wqxr.org/people/james-bennett-ii/

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Nov 12 2019

1hr

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Unlocking the Rhythms of Rosalía

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Back in the fall of 2017, our producer Megan Lubin went for a stroll near her house, popped in earbuds, and heard a song that’s stuck with her ever since: “Si Tú Supieras Compañero” (“If you only knew, my friend”), by the Spanish pop star Rosalía. Since then, Rosalía’s star has continued, especially after the 2018 release of “El Mal Querer,” Rosalía’s genre-blending album of R&B and flamenco. 

On this episode, we dig into Rosalía’s sound to try and figure out what stopped Megan in her tracks back then, and what keeps us coming back. With the help of New York Times Magazine writer Marcela Valdes, we break down key elements of the flamenco tradition, like the hard-to-define magic of duende, and count out some of the diabolical rhythms that keep us dancing. 

Songs Discussed

  • Rosalía - Si Tú Supieras Compañero
  • Rosalía - BAGDAD (Cap.7: Liturgia) 
  • Rosalía - PIENSO EN TU MIRÁ (Cap.3: Celos)


Episode Spotify Playlist:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4zRce31m3RhCjVwmSSMz2Q

Read “Rosalía’s Incredible Journey from Flamenco to Megastardom” by Marcela Valdes: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/08/magazine/rosalia-flamenco.html

Watch Rosalía performing “Me quedo contigo”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32d1bq-kG5c

More coverage of Rosalía from The FADER magazine: https://www.thefader.com/artist/rosalia


**A previous version of this episode claimed that Alicia Key's "Fallin'", Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man", "Marvin Gaye's "Here, My Dear" and Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" were all written in 3/4 time. That was in error, and we've edited the episode to reflect that.

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Nov 05 2019

49mins

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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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Why U Love 2 Listen 2 Prince (with Anil Dash)

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Anil Dash is obsessed with Prince. Since he’s the host of the tech podcast Function, he has a unique perspective on the Purple One’s complicated relationship with technology. Anil joins the show to break down the many ways that Prince predicted the sound and science of modern pop, from drum machines to online distribution to internet culture. We’ll discuss how Michael Jackson jacked Prince’s electronic experimentation for Thriller, why Prince liked to lurk in fan chat rooms, and how he found ways to change his sound without ever sacrificing his integrity. We’re only beginning to understand Prince’s legacy, but Anil takes us one step closer to fully appreciating the ahead-of-their-time talents of a once-in-a-century artist. 

Songs featured:

  • Prince - 1999
  • Kraftwerk - The Robots
  • Talking Heads - Once in a Lifetime
  • Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - The Message
  • The Human League - Don’t You Want Me Baby
  • Prince - Little Red Corvette
  • Michael Jackson - Thriller
  • Santana ft. Rob Thomas - Smooth
  • Prince ft. Eve - Hot Wit U
  • Prince ft. Ani Difranco - Eye Love U, But Eye Don’t Trust U Anymore
  • Prince - How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore
  • Prince - Black Sweat
  • Prince - THIS COULD BE US

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Oct 22 2019

34mins

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A Brief History of Men Singing Really High

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Men singing high is so ubiquitous in modern pop that we might take it granted, never pausing to ask: has it always been this way? Estelle Caswell, who makes the Emmy-winning Earworm series for Vox, decided to find out, and she stops by to share results from her painstaking study of male falsetto in pop music from 1958 to today. Some of her findings may surprise, like 1996 was the peak year for falsetto, Justin Timberlake doesn't sing as you high at might think, and falsetto has been around as long as pop itself. 

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Oct 15 2019

46mins

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Total Request Live! Taylor, Lana, Kim, and More (with Sam Sanders)

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NPR's Sam Sanders stops by to break down the tracks that Switched On listeners have been loving. Swedish dancefloor confessionals, songs that stop time, the specificity of Lana Del Rey, and the awkwardness of descending fourths: it's all on the table in this freewheeling conversation of deep musical nerdiness.

Songs DiscussedTove Lo ft Kylie Minogue - Really don’t like uCamila Cabello - LiarAce of Base - All That She WantsTyler the Creator - EARFQUAKETaylor Swift - Cruel SummerLana Del Rey, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus - Don’t Call Me AngelLana Del Rey - Happiness is a butterflyKing Princess - ProphetKim Petras - Hillside BoysIDK - PornoJai Paul - Str8 Outta MumbaiJai Paul - Genevieve (Unfinished)Many thanks to everyone who called in for this one: Amanda, Jackie, Melanie, Alec, Madeleine, John B, Steve, Courtney, Julia, Zach, Lee, Tara, Habbi, and of course - John from Baltimore.

For more of Sam's great takes on culture, check out It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders

CORRECTION: A version of this episode incorrectly stated that Jack Antonoff was a writer on the song "Lover." Taylor Swift was the sole credited songwriter on that song, while Jack Antonoff has a production credit on the piece.

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Oct 07 2019

42mins

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Mastering Music (with Dallas Taylor of Twenty Thousand Hertz)

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Dallas Taylor, host of the stellar sound design series Twenty Thousand Hertz, stops by to fill Nate in on the science and style of mastering: the subtle art that explains why Metallica had to re-release a controversial album, Kanye sounds so crisp, and why the best pop really pops

Songs Discussed

Lizzo - Juice

Kanye West - Heartless

Led Zeppelin - Stairway to heaven

Pink Floyd - Money

Daft Punk - Get Lucky

Metallica - The Day That Never Comes

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper

The Beatles - Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Intrigued by mastering? Get your fix with the Twenty Thousand Hertz episode The [Compressed] History of Mastering.

We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: https://voxmedia.iad1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_ewVXHPZIsQNlxCR?Source=note

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Oct 01 2019

56mins

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Jazz 1959

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Charlie's out on parental leave, which means no one is here to stop Nate from going off the rails. And you know what means... JAZZ! As soon as dad left the room, Nate enlisted his favorite journalist, jazz and sports writer Natalie Weiner, to come on the show and discuss her incredible 1959 Project — a day-by-day chronicle of jazz during one of its most pivotal years. We listen to classic 1959 albums Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and Dave Brubeck's Take Out, discuss the complex legacy of Billie Holiday, and dig into some of the year's forgotten gems.

Sixty years later, jazz is no longer the cultural juggernaut is once was — but it still has much to teach us about pop culture of the present.

Playlist:

•Miles Davis - So What

•Dave Brubeck - Take Five

•Billie Holiday - Blue Moon

•Billie Holiday - Billie's Blues

•Erykah Badu - On & On

•Amy Winehouse - There Is No Greater Love

•Muriel Roberts - Sleigh Ride

•Terry Pollard - Laura

•Willene Barton and her Trio - Rice Pudding

Check out the 1959 and 2019 jazz cuts we're listening to.

We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: https://voxmedia.iad1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_ewVXHPZIsQNlxCR?Source=note

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Sep 24 2019

49mins

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BONUS: Charli XCX and The Future of Music (with Dani Deahl)

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The pace of new music releases these days is dizzying. Sometimes it’s like watching someone do a magic trick--we *swear* those songs weren’t there a second ago! But then, there they are, popping up in batches right out of thin air. Of course, behind each individual release sits months of decision-making by the artist: who to collaborate with and when, how to structure the musical product of that collaboration, what to call it, how to release it, when, and on what platform. The list is long, and each of those choices has a big impact on how we hear the song.

The Verge’s Dani Deahl recently sat down with reigning Princess of Pop, Charli XCX, to discuss how she approaches those decisions, and how that approach is bucking long-established norms in popular music. In this special bonus episode of Switched on Pop, Dani rings up Charlie (not XCX) to recap that conversation and put Charli (XCX)’s artistry in context. Via Dani, we learn that for Charli collaboration is more than just an artistic choice; and release strategy is much more than a major label playbook. There’s a total freedom in the way Charli releases music, and we love it. Huge thanks to Dani for bringing us this peek into her world.

Songs discussed:Charli XCX - Boom ClapCharli XCX, Christine and the Queens - GoneCharli XCX ft. Lizzo - Blame It On Your LoveLizzo - Truth HurtsCatch the rest of Dani’s conversation with both Charli/es in the newest episode of The Verge’s ‘Future of Music’ video series,

We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: https://voxmedia.iad1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_ewVXHPZIsQNlxCR?Source=note

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Sep 22 2019

34mins

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The “Baby Shark” Phenomenon (with Andrea Silenzi)

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For most parents, “Baby Shark” is the nightmare that will not end. Ever since the South Korean educational company Pinkfong released the song earlier this year, it’s almost impossible to avoid.

The infectious children’s tune has more than 2.3 billion views on YouTube and made it onto the Billboard Top 40 list. So what makes this song so catchy and irresistible to children? And how do the rest of us cope with the unavoidable hit while keeping our sanity?

Andrea Silenz, host of the parenting podcast The Longest Shortest Time, and Charlie explore the phenomenon that is “Baby Shark.

Songs DiscussedPinkfong - Baby SharkFrank Zappa - Baby SnakesStevie Wonder - Isn’t She Lovely Suzanne Vega - Tom’s DinerBaby Shark/ Tom’s Diner mashup “Baby Diner”The Weeknd - I Can’t Feel My FaceRadioheadPinkfong - The Penguin DancePinkfong - Lions in LoveDrake - God’s PlanMicheal Jackson - Billie JeanWhitney Houston - I Wanna Dance With SomebodyBruno Mars - Uptown FunkBeastie Boys - Brass MonkeyVanilla Ice - Ice Ice BabyJosh Groban - River The Beatles - All You Need Is LoveHarry Potter theme Raffi - Baby Beluga 

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Sep 17 2019

36mins

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BONUS: Who are the Picassos of pop? (with Ross Golan)

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Ross Golan is no stranger to Switched on Pop. This week, the songwriter and host of the hit podcast And The Writer Is… joins Charlie for a BONUS episode (cue siren) about the surprising lessons learned from a collective seven years behind the interview mic. Tune in as Ross and Charlie discuss the infinite shelf-life of classic songwriting techniques, the happy accidents behind some of your favorite hit songs, and the essential qualities of a good listener.

Find more Ross on Switched on Pop in Episode 58, ‘What’s to Love About Ed Sheeran?’, and catch more of And The Writer Is… when Season 5 premiers this Monday, September 9th — anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Episodes discussed:#80 How to ‘Make Me Feel’ with Lizzo#123 What BTS’s “Boy With Love” ft. Halsey Can Teach Us About K-pop#99 Entering Beard Phase (with Mike Posner)#107 How Streaming Changed the Sound of PopSongs Discussed:Lizzo - Truth HurtsSister Nancy - Bam BamPaul Anka - Put Your Hand on My ShoulderBTS ft. Halsey - Boy with LuvAriana Grande - Break Free

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Sep 13 2019

47mins

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Switched Off Book the Improvised Musical (with Jess McKenna and Zach Reino)

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On this very special episode, we join forces with the hilarious podcast OFF BOOK. When our powers combine, Zach and Jess of Off Book, plus their killer backing band of Scott, Dana and Brett create an improvised musical, while Nate and Charlie break down the sound and structure of a Broadway show. Stay tuned for deep thoughts about what separates pop music from musicals, wild speculation about the origin of the word “vamp,” and an ENTIRE FREAKING MUSICAL COMPOSED FROM SCRATCH that will make you laugh your face off. This is not one to miss.

Find more episodes of Off Book on their website h.earwolf.com/off, or anywhere you find podcasts.

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Sep 10 2019

1hr 31mins

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ICYMI: How to 'Make Me Feel' with Lizzo

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"Make Me Feel," is the first hit from Janelle Monáe's 2018 album Dirty Computer,  and a sensual song about the fluidity of desire. In the pre-chorus, the singer proudly expresses that she is a "sexual bender." Fans have embraced the song for breaking free of normative sexual expectations. But these non-binary statements aren't limited to the lyrics. The message is reinforced with musical concepts drawn from the blues, Prince and Michael Jackson. To help break down this track, Nate and Charlie are joined by singer/rapper Lizzo. She and Monáe both collaborated with Prince, making Lizzo uniquely qualified to unwind his influence on the song. We also discuss Lizzo's song "Truth Hurts" and her podcast "Good As Hell" where she talks to the queens of hip hop. Hands down, Lizzo is one of the most talented, knowledgable and fun guests. You don't want to miss this episode.

Songs DiscussedJanelle Monáe - Make Me FeelMichael Jackson - The Way You Make Me FeelMichael Jackson - Beat ItFats Domino - Blueberry HillPrince - KissYing Yang Twins - Wait (The Whisper Song)Lizzo - Truth HurtsSister Nancy - Bam

Don't miss Lizzo's podcast "Good As Hell" on Spotify

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Sep 03 2019

52mins

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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

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Songs of Summer Call-in Special

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Every year, critics and media outlets the world over put out definitive song-of-summer guides based on... well, we’re not always entirely sure. Certainly popularity, as measured by streams and radio play; not to mention that bewildering feeling that creeps up some time mid-July, prompting whispered exclamations of: “man, this song is everywhere.” But the most ubiquitous track isn’t necessarily the one you’ll have on repeat on those steamy summer commutes to work, nor is it the song you’ll want soundtracking this year’s vacations, graduations, summer flings and backyard cookouts.

In this episode, we abandon the pursuit of a single song of summer, and ask the question we’re more interested in: What does summer sound like? To answer that question, we asked you, our listeners, and got some downright awesome suggestions in return. Your voicemails covered everything from Hot Girl Summer anthems and nostalgia-inducing dance jams, to globally infused collaborations and just-released future-feeling indie rock cuts. Today, we travel across the full spectrum of summer feels, and the music that comes through when we need it the most.

Songs DiscussedMUNA - Number One FanAmber Mark - Put You OnJonas Brothers - Only HumanShawn Mendes, Camila Cabello - SeñoritaCharlie XCX, Christine and the Queens - GoneBTS, Zara Larsson - Brand New DayKaty Perry - Teenage DreamPost Malone - SunflowerLil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus - Old Town RoadPinkfong - Baby Shark Khalid - BetterMegan Thee Stallion - Big ol’ FreakMegan Thee Stallion, Juicy J - Simon SaysSaweetie - My TypePetey Pablo - Freak-A-LeakCity Girls - Act UpMegan Thee Stallion, DaBaby - Cash ShitClairo - Sofia HAIM - Summer GirlLou Reed - Walk on the Wild SideMother’s Daughter - Miley CyrusRosalía - Aute CutureAriana Grande - NASABANKS - GimmeGrimes, Hana - We appreciate powerLizzo - Truth HurtsPaul McCartney - JetDon Henley - The Boys of SummerSantana, Rob Thomas - SmoothBritney Spears - ToxicThe Slits - I Heard it Through the Grapevine Missy Elliott - SlideFreddie Gibbs, Madlib - CataractsVampire Weekend - 2021

Misc extras

Listen to all of these songs and more on the Switched on Pop Songs of Summer 2019 Playlist

Note

In this episode we made light of PTSD by using the term irreverently - thanks to listener feedback we're better aware of how destructive such diminishing comments can be to people dealing with trauma. We apologize for the misuse and will strive to avoid it in the future. 

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Aug 20 2019

53mins

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Chance The Rapper, Kehlani, & The Shifting Sound of R&B — with Oak Felder

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The sound of R&B is difficult to pin down. Since the 1950s, the label has been used both as a genre and as a catch-all for the entirety of black popular music. Soul, funk, disco and even hip-hop have at times been covered by this "R&B" umbrella. On Chance The Rapper's new album, The Big Day, all of these influences come through—and he's not alone. On recent Kehlani records, 90s R&B and 2000s trap both play a role. But both these artists are a far cry from the 50s R&B sounds of Sam Cooke. To understand how R&B has changed over time, we consult with Trevor Anderson, manager of Billboard's R&B/Hip Hop chart. Then we speak with R&B super-producer Oak Felder to understand how R&B is progressing and what it might become.

Songs DiscussedChance The Rapper - Hot ShowerChance The Rapper - I Got YouSam Cooke - You Send MeElvis Presley - Crying In the ChapelThe Temptations - I Can’t Get Next To YouMtume - Juicy FruitBiggie - JuicyToni Braxton - Breath AgainJanet Jackson - That’s The Way Love GoesBoys II Men - I’ll Make Love To YouLauryn Hill - Doo Wop (That Thing)Diddy - I’ll Be Missing You (feat. Faith Evans & 112)Nelly - DilemmaKehlani - DistractionSWV - WeakAaron Hall - I Miss YouUsher - You Make Me WannaBrandy - Sittin' Up In My RoomDru Hill - In My BedSilk - Freak MeDemi Lovato - Sorry Not SorryJodeci - Cry For youMariah Carey - Vision of LoveKehlani - Everything Is YoursChance The Rapper - All Day LongQueen - Fat Bottom GirlsDiana Ross - I’m Coming Out

For an in depth history of R&B on Billboard, read Chris Molanphy's feature on Pitchfork.

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Aug 13 2019

55mins

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Beyoncé's Gift To Africa (with Ivie Ani)

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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 DiscussedBeyoncé, Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, Oumou Sangaré – MOOD 4 EVAOumou Sangaré – Diaraby NenBurna Boy – JA ARAFela Kuti – Water No Get EnemyFena, MDQ, Mayonde, Kagwe, Blinky Bill – PARTY NATIONListen to Blinky and Ivie’s East African playlist recommendations

Leave us a voicemail about your favorite songs of summer: 385-626-6179

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Aug 06 2019

38mins

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