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Unpopped

By BBC Radio

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Getting serious about the silly stuff. Hayley Campbell & friends examine the biggest pop culture moments of the recent past.

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Getting serious about the silly stuff. Hayley Campbell & friends examine the biggest pop culture moments of the recent past.

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Top 10 Episode of Unpopped

Rank #1: Seinfeld and the Tyranny of Endings

Jun 04 2018
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Created in 1989, the American television sitcom Seinfeld was almost cancelled after the first episode, but it slowly grew in reputation to become, after nine seasons and 180 episodes, one of the most influential and successful TV series ever. As well as introducing the characters of Seinfeld, Elaine, George and Kramer to the television viewing public, the show invented a lexicon that entered the language including 'yada yada yada', 'double dipping' and 'regifting'. Famously a show about nothing, Seinfeld insisted on a 'no hugging no learning' policy that added a touch of darkness to the comedy. The show's final episode in 1998 was a huge cultural event, attracting an audience of 76 million people and is still the fourth most-watched television finale of all time. But many were disappointed by the way the show ended - the story was too dark, too big and moved too far away from the persona of the show. The failure of the finale developed into an industry joke and affected many of the stars and creators of the show. Why was Seinfeld so successful and influential? Why did its finale fail to capture the audience’s imagination? What effect did this have the show's writers and performers and what lessons were learned from the programmes that came after Seinfeld? Discussing this are Lauren Bravo, Darren Richman and Sarah Dempster. Presenter: Hayley Campbell Producer: Dale Shaw

Rank #2: Instagram and Artifice

Jun 25 2018
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Founded in 2010, the photo sharing social media platform Instagram quickly exploded in popularity, registering one million users in its first two months, followed by 10 million in its first year. In 2012, Facebook bought the service for around $1 billion. Today, it boasts 800 million monthly active users with 70 million photos uploaded every day. Alongside Twitter and Facebook it has become a dominant social media force. But Instagram has also been the subject of criticism. Studies have found it to be the worst platform for your mental health. There have been allegations of censorship and appropriation, a rise in entirely fake, computer generated Instagrammers and a blurring of the line between personal expression and advertising. We look at the rise and influence of Instagram. Is the site raising a generation of selfie-obsessed narcissists? Why is the service more popular with women and what influence has the platform had on the art world? Can Instagram change the world for the better? With Grace Banks, Sophie Wilkinson and Kat Brown. Presenter: Hayley Campbell Producer: Dale Shaw

Rank #3: David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest and Legacy

Apr 16 2018
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Released in 1996, David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest was critically lauded on release and became a New York Times bestseller. But since the author’s suicide in 2008, the book and Wallace himself has undergone a change in reputation. While the book still has its staunch defenders, with many considering it a masterpiece, it has also become shorthand for a sort of ‘literary chauvinism’ - seen to be adored by a certain type of male reader who insists on imposing their opinion on all, especially via social media. What made this book so notable in the first place? Why does it possess a reputation for being both prophetic and difficult? And why is it now maligned in some quarters as a totem for toxic masculinity and how can the legacy and reputation of an author be maintained after death? With Jonathan McAloon, Elsa Court and Matt Greene. Presenter: Hayley Campbell Producer: Dale Shaw

Rank #4: YouTube and Ubiquity

Apr 02 2018
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The video sharing and hosting site YouTube was launched in 2005 and quickly became one of the most visited and influential websites on the planet. Since its inception, it has arguably transformed the worlds of politics, music, health, advertising ,DIY, beauty, comedy and all branches of traditional broadcast media. It has also spawned its own breed of celebrity, the YouTuber, those dedicated to sharing their lives online. But why was it YouTube, rather than any number of similar sites, that became so synonymous with video? Why do we feel the need to share and watch video content online and who are the YouTubers, what makes a successful one and why do they appear to continually create so much controversy? Host: Hayley Campbell Producer: Dale Shaw

Rank #5: Now That's What I Call Music and Survival

Jul 02 2018
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First released in 1983, the Now That's What I Call Music compilation album series was a joint venture between music giants Virgin and EMI, which collected together 30 of the biggest chart hits from that particular period. The success of the first Now album led to a number of copycat versions including Hits and Out Now, but these were short-lived compared to Now, who saw every release reach multiple platinum sales. And the series has continued to go from strength to strength despite enormous changes in the music industry. 1999’s Now 44 became the biggest seller in the series, 2008’s Now 70 sold the most units in its first week while 2016’s Now 95 was the biggest selling album of that year. There have been spin-off editions covering everything from Dad Rock to Video Games and global editions released in China, Argentina and Korea. But why did this particular compilation capture the public’s imagination? Do compilation albums of this type help to form or frustrate musical tastes? Can they devalue music in some way? And how has the series survived in the age of streaming and downloads? With Sheryl Garratt former editor of The Face and The Observer Magazine, Emma Garland from Vice and Now expert Rich Lally. Presenter: Hayley Campbell Producer: Dale Shaw

Rank #6: The Roots of Grime and Representation

Apr 09 2018
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Emerging from the estates of East London in the early 2000s, Grime threw together elements of garage, jungle, Jamaican dancehall and hip-hop to produce a distinct, home-grown British music genre. Using unorthodox music distribution methods such as pirate radio, raves, mixtapes and DVDs, Grime bypassed the traditional music industry completely, developing its own identity, sound and lifestyle which has been likened to the punk movement of the 1970s. Fiercely independent and distinctly anti-establishment, Grime developed quickly, attracting critical acclaim and a dedicated fanbase. Soon it had its first breakout star in the form of Dizzee Rascal, whose debut album, Boy in Da Corner, won the Mercury Music prize in 2003. But then Grime appeared to adopt a holding pattern. No other artists of Dizzee Rascal’s stature emerged from the scene and the genre returned to the underground, growing and developing away from the mainstream, re-emerging with Skepta's chart-topping album, Konnichiwa and Stormzy’s international success. Why did Grime emerge when it did, who were some of its early stars, what did the genre mean to those making and hearing the music during its development and what role do women play in the history and current success of Grime? WIth Yomi Adegoke and Dr Joy White. Presenter: Hayley Campbell Producer: Dale Shaw

Rank #7: Unpopped: Back Soon!

May 08 2018
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Unpopped is taking a little break and will be back in a few weeks. But while you're waiting - here are just a few of the things that we might be looking at in the next series.

Rank #8: One Direction and Conspiracy Theories

Jun 11 2018
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In 2010, One Direction came only third in TV talent show The X Factor. And yet they went on to become one of the biggest bands in the world. The group went on to have enormous success around the world, selling more than 50 million albums and 25 million singles. In 2015, the band announced an indefinite hiatus and all the members launched solo careers. They also, partly through their canny use of social media, developed a large and passionate fanbase. With much of the band’s activity shared and showcased on Twitter and Facebook, Directioners (as the fans are known) cultivated even more intense bonds to the boys, harkening back to the days of Beatlemania or Bowie. This intense fan interaction also propagated a series of increasingly bizarre rumours, stories, fanfic and conspiracy theories concerning individual members that spread online. Why did runners up in a talent show become global chart toppers? Why do they generate such a devoted following? What do Directioners tell us about the nature of fandom today? And did all the social media attention and the online speculation concerning the band eventually do more harm than good?

 With guests Joe Stone, Laura-May Coope and Chris Lochary. Presenter: Hayley Campbell Producer: Dale Shaw

Rank #9: Bridget Jones and the Status of Comedy

Jun 18 2018
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Bridget Jones first appeared in diary form in the pages of The Independent during the mid-1990s, detailing her life of failed romances, over-indulgence and a determination to change. The columns were collected into a book - 1996’s Bridget Jones Diary - which went on to sell over two million copies worldwide and won the 1998 British Book of the Year. A film followed in 2001 which grossed over $280 million and earned an Academy Award nomination for the film’s star Renée Zellweger. Three more books and two more films followed, most recently Bridget Jones’s Baby, one of the most successful British films of 2016. But Bridget has also attracted criticism. Some feel the character is ‘anti-feminist’, getting cheap laughs while exploiting what are seen as some of the worst female character flaws and only finding happiness when she has landed her man. We look at the influence and legacy of Bridget Jones. Why did the character strike such a chord with readers and cinema-goers? Did the films affect the reputation of the books. Are the criticisms levelled at her justified and what influence has the franchise had on wider popular culture? Is the comic novel, as a genre, disregarded and maligned in critical circles? With Daisy Buchanan, Lucy Vine and Andy Miller. Presenter: Hayley Campbell. Producer: Dale Shaw.

Rank #10: Come Dine With Me and the British Psyche

Mar 26 2018
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Across 41 series and nearly 1700 episodes, Come Dine With Me has developed into a beloved TV staple, with one publication declaring it 'the greatest show on television'. Featuring four or five contestants each hosting a dinner party in their home and being scored on the results, the show is a reality/game show/cookery hybrid that has captured the public's imagination and spawned versions around the world. What is it about the show that is so compelling? How is it put together and what motivates the contestants to take part? What does the show say about the British class system and our relationship with food? And what does it take to win the show? Joining host Hayley Campbell are Pointless host and television producer Richard Osman, journalist Lauren Bravo and the creator of Come Dine With Me, Nell Butler. Producer: Dale Shaw