Podcast

Switched On Pop

Pop music surrounds us, but how often do we really listen to what we’re hearing? Switched on Pop is the podcast that pulls back the curtain on pop music. Each episode, join musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding as they reveal the secret formulas that make pop songs so infectious. By figuring out how pop hits work their magic, you’ll fall in love with songs you didn’t even know you liked.

Episodes

  • How Dirty Projectors Make You Feel Energy (with David Longstreth)

    Nov 13 2018

    Dirty Projectors are known for their kaleidoscopic soundscapes. They make strange bedfellows of  music techniques like 14th vocal harmonies and African guitar rhythms. But in the backdrop of their obscure orchestrations you will hear the indelible marks of pop music. Longstreth has recently collaborated on songs with Solange, Rihanna, Kanye and Paul McCartney. On his new track "I Feel Energy" we can hear that pop influence shine through. Together we break down his unpredictable 808s to see ...more

  • Stairway To Hell: Greta Van Fleet’s Scorching Album Review That Went Viral

    Oct 30 2018

    Classic rock climaxed a half century ago, yet it still survives in two places: FM radio & Greta Van Fleet. The later are an upstart of four boys from Michigan who have found stardom by dusting off the mantle of guitar driven rock. Their latest album, Anthem Of The Peaceful Army, bares an uncanny sonic resemblance to Led Zeppelin. Jeremy D. Larson, senior editor of Pitchfork, gave the album a 1.6 out of 10 calling it "stiff, hackneyed, overly precious retro-fetishism." His vicious and hilario...more

  • Charli XCX and Troye Sivan Love the 90s

    Oct 16 2018

    Charli XCX and Troye Sivan conjure late 90s nostalgia in their latest banger. "1999" drips with lyrical nostalgia for the last decade of the millennium — but does the music follow suit? We think the pair are missing prime opportunities to bring back some neglected musical tricks from the early oeuvre of Britney Spears. The 90s bug goes beyond Charli and Troye. Anne-Marie and Lauren Alaina also pine for the Clinton era in their millennial bops. Which makes one ask: is the present so bad that we m...more

  • Sicko Rap and Drunk Country

    Oct 03 2018

    Four songs on the Hot 100 pop chart reveal the new directions in which music is headed. Travis Scott's "Sicko Mode" boasts an unprecedented formal structure that points to the future of hip hop. Meanwhile, in the world of country, Jason Aldean, Mitchell Tenpenny, and Dan + Shay are putting a modern spin on one of the style's oldest tropes: drinking bourbon. Together these tracks make up the vanguard of their respective genres, but are fans willing to take the plunge?Featuring:Travis Scott - Sick...more

  • The Side Effects of Pop Music with Emily Warren

    Sep 18 2018

    Emily Warren is one of the great rising stars of contemporary songwriting. Her song "Side Effects" with The Chainsmokers is currently rising up the charts. You’ve also heard her writing on Dua Lipa’s "New Rules." She’s collaborated with many of the best performers in music earning her a Grammy and multi-platinum success with “Don’t Let Me Down.” She's also recently released her single "Paranoid." Emily is a real songwriters songwriter. Her process is as much therapy as art. Together we break dow...more

  • Drake vs Drake

    Sep 06 2018

    Drake, per usual, has been inescapable this summer. "In My Feelings" and "Nice For What" top the charts, but there's depth to these bangers. We argue for hearing one as a meditation on fragile masculinity, the other as a paean to NOLA Bounce. Continue the conversation with us on Instagram and Twitter: @SwitchedOnPopSongs discussed:Drake - In My FeelingsDrake - Nice For WhatLauryn Hill - Ex FactorThe Showboys - Drag Rap (Triggaman)Cameron Paul - Brown BeatCheeky Blakk - Let Me Get That OutchaBeyo...more

  • Summer Heat of the 2000s: Beyoncé and Black Eyed Peas (Pt. II)

    Aug 23 2018

    The final episode of our Switched on Summer throwback series finds us deconstructing more early aughts bangers. Under consideration: two of the biggest hits since Y2K, Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" and the Black Eyed Peas' "I Got a Feeling." Tune in to dig how these tracks keeps the temperature rising through harmonic suspension, and to ask if will.i.am cribbed "Chopsticks."Switched On Summer Winner: Slow DanceCongrats to Slow Dance for winning our Switched On Summer contest with their song "I'm You...more

  • Summer Heat of the 2000s: Nelly + Katy Perry (Pt. 1)

    Aug 09 2018

    What made summer jams of the aughties like Nelly's "Hot in Herre" and Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" so hot? The answer: big, sweaty, doses of harmonic tension. Specifically, each track relies on the Baroque technique of the ground bass. Wait, we mean: the Baroque technique of PEDAL POINT!  When the chords in these songs don't match up with their bass notes, the ratcheting tension adds heat—fueling both dance moves, and controversy.Featuring:Nelly - Hot in Herre Katy Perry - I Kissed a Girl...more

  • Why is 90s Pop so Bizarre?

    Jul 27 2018

    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 everythi...more

  • The Resistance is Dancing in the Streets

    Jul 12 2018

    Our Switched on Summer Throwback Series continues with "Dancing in the Street," the 1964 Motown hit by Martha and the Vandellas that was co-written by none other than Marvin Gaye. Over 50 years and countless covers later, we explore how this song still manages to get people off their feet and onto the streets—not just to dance, but also to raise their voices in joy, catharsis, and protest. Also, start making your own summer hits with our Switched On Summer repack on Splice at www.splice.com/onpo...more

  • Switched on Summer: Getting Around with the Beach Boys

    Jun 28 2018

    Our Switched on Summer throwback mini-series begins in the heart of the 1960s, with the Beach Boys' perennial school's-out jam "I Get Around."We explore how every aspect of Brian Wilson's two-minute-long masterpiece is perfectly calculated to literally "get around"—harmonically, melodically, and lyrically—creating that unbeatable feeling of cruising all over town with the top down on a hot summer's night. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Announcing Switched On Summer Throwback Series

    Jun 22 2018

    This summer we’re going to be doing a Switched On Summer series, breaking down your favorite summer pop hits from the 60s to the present. We’re talking about Beach Boys to Beyonce. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Pure Pop of Charlie Puth + Carly Rae (ft Hanif Abdurraqib)

    Jun 14 2018

    Part I: The Doctors Are In! We diagnose a listener's musical malady, namely: "why does Charlie Puth's new jam 'BOY' make us feel so weird?!" Part II: Guest Hanif Adburraqib, author of They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, helps break down Carly Rae Jepsen's epic "Cut to the Feeling" to understand why CRJ is a different kind of pop star.Featuring:•Charlie Puth - BOY•Ismael Miranda - Recordando•Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - Nobody's Baby•The Beatles - She's a Woman•The Cars - Since You're Go...more

  • Afrofuturism in Kali Uchis & Clipping (with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes)

    May 31 2018

    Parliament Funkadelic has had waves of influence on popular music. Their Afrofuturist message and infectious grooves built the backbone of 70s funk, was revived in the 90s with Dr. Dre's G-Funk, and is once again in vogue with in the music of Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino and Kali Uchis. Bootsy Collins, bass player of Parliament Funkadelic, collaborated with Kali Uchis and Tyler the Creator on the track "After The Storm," which draws on the P-Funk sound. Similarly, Clipping pay homage to the ...more

  • Finding Equanimity In 'No Tears Left To Cry'

    May 17 2018

    Ariana Grande has returned with a track that is jarring yet simultaneously catchy. She uses sophisticated musical techniques to tell a story of healing, resiliency, and hope after the attack at her concert in Manchester. Listeners will learn techniques like tempo rubato, modal interchange and amen breaks, which weave together this equanimous narrative.Songs featured:Ariana Grande - No Tears Left To CryAriana Grande - Into YouAriana Grande - Break Free ft. ZeddThe Winstons - Amen BrotherThe Prodi...more

  • Can AI 'Algorhythms' Write Pop Songs? (With Taryn Southern)

    May 03 2018

    There is a lot of scare about the impending future of artificial intelligence making humans irrelevant. Musician Taryn Southern examines this narrative through her song “Life Support,” written with the aid of AI composition tools. We dispel current myths about AI music and discuss its future opportunities. In the second half of the show we run a musical 'Turing test' to see if you can identify music made by a bot from that composed by the hand of a human. Learn more about your ad choices. V...more

  • Listening Differently to Lorde | with MARIAN HILL

    Apr 19 2018

    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 - RibsBroken Social ...more

  • Kacey Musgraves Gives Us Butterflies

    Apr 05 2018

    On her single 'Butterflies,' Kacey Musgraves demonstrates a tour de force of songwriting. This song is a wild success because it incessantly reinforces one core emotional concept: that queasy anxious feeling in your stomach. No we're not talking about your leftover lunch, we're talking about love. But this is not just a simple little love song. It is a masterclass of creativity. Musgraves uses every element of music to reinforce her core idea. The lyrics fold back onto themselves with dual meani...more

  • Gucci Gang and the Neural Substrate of Subjective Time Dilation

    Mar 22 2018

    In which Nate tries to convince Charlie that Lil Pump's SoundCloud Rap hit "Gucci Gang" warps the perceptual present.Featuring:Lil Pump - Gucci GangGustav Mahler - Der Abschied / Das Lied von der ErdeFranz Schubert - String Quintet / AdagioConlon Nancarrow - Study for Prepared Piano 21Check out Jonathan Berger's article on musical time in Nautilus.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • How to 'Make Me Feel' with Lizzo

    Mar 08 2018

    "Make Me Feel," is the first hit from Janelle Monáe's upcoming album Dirty Computer. It is 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 Charl...more

  • 808s & Havana Heartbreak

    Feb 22 2018

    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 ...more

  • My My My! Troye Sivan + Queer Pop (w Gina Delvac, Darryl Bullock)

    Feb 08 2018

    Gina Delvac of the Call Your Girlfriend podcast and Darryl W Bullock, author of David Bowie Made Me Gay, join Nate and Charlie to dig into the poetry of Troye Sivan's "My My My!", the history of LGBT pop music, and the songs we love to hate. And also be sure to check out: Darryl Bullock's playlist of LGBT pop, from his book David Bowie Made Me Gayand the brilliant Call Your Girlfriend podcast, produced by Gina. Featuring:•Troye Sivan - My My My!•Taylor Swift - Style•West Side Story - Cool•B...more

  • 90s Nostalgia in Bruno Mars and Charlie Puth

    Jan 25 2018

    The 90s are back. It is as if pop music entered a black hole and came out 25 years in the past. Today's artists are reviving the new jack swing and vocal R&B, creating a wave of 90s nostalgia. Uncover how they trick us into somehow loving those days when we got beat up in the middle school parking lot. Spotify 90s Nostalgia playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/switchedonpop/playlist/3beUwxOxzbTZ8M3aymZlg5Featuring:Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B - FinesseCharlie Puth ft. Boyz II Men - If You Leave...more

  • Justin Timberlake's Identity Crisis

    Jan 11 2018

    What's up with Justin Timberlake? Two years ago he gifted us the ebullient family-friendly jam "Can't Stop the Feeling," now he's on the cusp of a deeply serious new record called "Man of the Woods," whose first single, strangely, is a bit of electro-funk snarl expertly produced by long-time collaborators Timbaland and Danja. What's going on here—who is JT trying to be? We listen deep to his latest, "Filthy," to try and understand its creator's conflicting musical worlds. Featuring:Justin T...more

  • Dua Lipa's Minor Mantra (w Emily Bootle)

    Dec 28 2017

    Charlie talks laments, Baroque opera, and gender politics in Dua Lipa's sleeper hit "New Rules" with writer Emily Bootle.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • All I Want for Xmas is a Year in Review Episode

    Dec 14 2017

    Charlie and Nate breakdown Mariah Carey's classic "All I Want for Christmas is You" and revisit their favorite tracks of 2017. Sleigh bells abound. Featuring• Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas• Laura Marling - Semper Femina• Lorde - Melodrama• Khalid - Location• Dua Lipa - New Rules• Logic - Everybody / 1-800-273-8255• Childish Gambino - Redbone• Sampha - (No One Knows Me) Like the piano in my mothers house• Father John Misty - Pure Comedy• Jay-Z: 4:44• Perfume Genius - No Shape• Aimee Man...more

  • Björk's Emotional Landscapes

    Nov 30 2017

    Björk is uniquely both a pop star and avant-garde composer. Though her music often challenges our ears, underneath her records you'll find more in common with today's pop music than you'd expect. Pieced together, you'll hear that she paints emotional landscapes composed of all the complexities of human experience. We give you a way to enjoy listening to her music. Using this hybrid pop/modernist method, we deconstruct her latest album Utopia. Plus Nate & Charlie fall in love all over again. ...more

  • Taylor Constructs A Darker Reputation

    Nov 16 2017

    Taylor Swift unveils a new, darker identity on her latest album "Reputation," and many have read the lyrics on her latest as not-so-subtle volleys in an ongoing celebrity feud. Still, a question remains: how does Swift cast this dark personality in music? Two songs offer evidence. Melodic drops and temporal gaps in "I Did Something Bad" signal the album's themes of descent and decay. On "Getaway Car," however, some of Swift's old songwriting tricks may betray her new persona.We also dug into Rep...more

  • Unlikely Mashups: Taylor + Cardi B | Clean Bandit + Berlioz

    Nov 02 2017

    [AUDIO FIXED] At the top of the pop charts, Taylor Swift and Cardi B, two artists with seemingly little in common, exploit the same compositional technique to hook listeners in. Meanwhile, across time and space, electro producers Clean Bandit ft. Julia Michaels, channel the thematic tricks of French Romantic composer Hector Berlioz in his 1830 Symphonie Fantastique. FeaturingTaylor Swift - Look What You Made Me Do Cardi B - Bodak YellowRight Said Fred - I'm Too SexyClean Bandit ft. Julia Mi...more

  • Kendrick Lamar's HUMBLE deconstructed w. guest Amber Mark

    Oct 19 2017

    With Charlie off the grid, Nate sits down with singer/producer Amber Mark to explore the different levels of Kendrick's hit HUMBLE.. Then, they turn to the diverse influences (including house music, Carnatic samples, and autodidactic piano chords) behind Mark's own track "Lose My Cool."Featuring:Kendrick Lamar - HUMBLE.Amber Mark - Lose My CoolAmber Mark - SPACELearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Demi Lovato is Not Sorry

    Oct 06 2017

    Demi Lovato's latest, "Sorry Not Sorry" is at once an unapologetic anthem of defiance and a super catchy mashup of multiple genres. As we'll see, every small musical choice is here for a reason, together fostering Lovato's message of ascension—or even, transcendence. And as we pick apart "Sorry Not Sorry," we'll go to some surprising places ourselves including: Klezmer melodies, spiritual pretzels and musical dementors. Featuring:•Demi Lovato - Sorry Not Sorry•Cardi B - Bodak Yellow•Dave Ta...more

  • How to 'Feels' the Groove

    Sep 22 2017

    How does a song with nonsense lyrics capture our attention, making us want to move? It is called the groove. Enter Calvin Harris' "Feels" (ft. Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams and Big Sean). Known for mainstreaming EDM, Harris throws out the software and picks up hardware instruments on this track. Upon first listen, this might seem like a sleeper hit, but as the loop repeats, you're going to want to move your feet. With intricate rhythmic interplay, the bass, drums, keys and guitar seem to talk to...more

  • Anthems of Resilience - Kesha and Imagine Dragons [LIVE]

    Sep 07 2017

    This episode of Switched on Pop comes at you live from Block Island, RI, recoded in front of an audience of friends and family following a solar eclipse. Fittingly, the two songs discussed that day formed their own kind of syzygy. Kesha's "Praying" and Imagine Dragon's "Believer" are inverse anthems of resilience. Both tracks seek catharsis - one through prayer, the other through pain.FeaturingKesha - Tik TokKesha - PrayingMozart -  The Queen of the Night AriaWhitney Houston - I Will Always...more

  • The Many Worlds of "Despacito"

    Aug 10 2017

    What has catapulted Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's "Despacito" to the top spot on the Billboard charts? Sorry, typo—to its status as the biggest song in the world? Your hosts explore the many worlds of "Despacito" in search of an answer.Featuring:Lusi Fonsi ft Daddy Yankee - DespacitoLuis Fonsi ft Daddy Yankee y Justin Bieber - Despacito (Remix)Luis Fonsi y Juan Luis Guerra - Llegaste TúMajor Lazer ft Justin Bieber - Cold WaterLos Del Rio - MacarenaDaddy Yankee - GasolinaAvril Lavigne - Complicat...more

  • Selena Gomez: Bad Liar, Psycho Songwriter

    Jul 13 2017

    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 KillerLearn more about your ad choices. ...more

  • Breaking Down Alanis Morissette (and our own Preconceptions) with guest Andrea Warner

    Jun 29 2017

    Author, critic and podcaster Andrea Warner joins for a throwback episode exploring politics in Lilith Fair, harmonic anger in Alanis Morissette's iconic "You Oughta Know," and the blind spots in your host's assessment of women in rock. Featuring:•Alanis Morissette - You Oughta KnowArtists mentioned by Andrea Warner:SZAIbeyiThe OvercoatsLizzoLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Morgan Page Reveals the Rule of 3 in Julia Michaels and Maroon 5

    Jun 16 2017

    Your brain can only hear three things at the same time. What you may not know is that musicians use this cognitive limitation to guide your listening all the time. Charlie and Nate are joined by Grammy Nominee music producer Morgan Page to reveal the secrets of this ubiquitous technique. Listening to Julia Michaels' hit "Issues," we unveil how the rule of three is used to draw our attention and keep us free from sonic distraction. And we look at how Maroon 5's "Cold" uses the same technique but ...more

  • DJ Khaled - I'm The One... six... four... five

    Jun 01 2017

    DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Quavo from Migos and Lil Wayne have allied for a new smash hit: "I'm The One." Despite the star power present, the resulting track is less than the sum of its parts—repetitive, derivative, uninventive. And yet, the lackluster "I'm The One" sits comfortably at the top of the charts, which raises the question: why?? Our answer: because Khaled and company understand the bewitching power of tonal harmony, and they've utilized the most surefire chord progr...more

  • Musical Architecture in Charlie Puth + HAIM

    May 18 2017

    Two new songs have captured the attention of your hosts—Charlie Puth's "Attention" and HAIM's "Want You Back." On the surface, these two songs appear to have little in common. A closer look, though, reveals the subtle musical architecture undergirding each track, a perfect balance of symmetry and asymmetry that keeps reeling us in for more.  Featuring: • Charlie Puth ft. Meghan Trainor - Marvin Gaye• Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth - See You Again• Charlie Puth ft. Selene Gomez - We Don't Talk...more

  • The End Of Pop Music As We Know It: Fall Out Boy & Charli XCX

    May 04 2017

    Is it true that all pop music sounds the same today? For the past year the “pop-drop” has dominated the airwaves. This new form of EDM infused pop came out of DJ culture and has infused its sound with every mainstream act like Lady Gaga and Coldplay. Tiring of this sound, some artists are finding creative ways to parody this pop trope. The rock outfit Fall Out Boy’s “Young And Menace” demonstrates equal parts mastery and mockery of the pop-drop. And PC Music, a rising art-music label out of Lond...more

  • Harry Styles, Eschatology and Teen Girl Fandom

    Apr 20 2017

    One Direction wunderkind Harry Styles has just released his first ever single, "Sign of the Times," and it's a doozy. Strap in for a discussion of the apocalypse, late Beatles, teen wisdom, and the amen cadence—among other demons exorcised in this most peculiar pop tune. Featuring:•Beethoven 5th Symphony - Scherzo•Harry Styles - Sign of the Times•Prince - Sign o' the Times•David Bowie - Space Oddity•Zayn Malik - Pillowtalk•Steve Aoki + Louis Tomlinson - Just Hold On•John Lennon - #9 Dream•G...more

  • What's to Love About Ed Sheeran? (guest Ross Golan)

    Apr 06 2017

    Songwriter Ross Golan comes over to start up a conversation, encouraging us to follow his lead and give Ed Sheeran's chart-annihilating record "Shape of You" a chance. Ross, a studio vet with multiple #1 hits (including  numbers discussed on this very podcast, such as Ariana Grande's "Dangerous Woman" and Selena Gomez's "Same Old Love") is the ideal guest to convince a skeptical Charlie and Nate that Sheeran might have a song handmade for somebodies like them. Plus, Ross takes us behind the...more

  • Zedd + Alessia Cara - Stay (w special guest Grey)

    Mar 23 2017

    Charlie and Nate sit down with up-and-coming producer duo Grey—fresh off their hit "Starving" with Zedd and Hailee Steinfeld—to uncover the secrets behind Alessia Cara and Zedd's dramatic dance track "Stay" and Grey's own deep cut "I Miss You" (ft Bahari). Snare drums as currency, Game of Thrones samples and screaming into the void are all discussed in this deep dive into the world of pop orchestration and 21st century songwriting.   Featuring:Zedd + Alessia Cara - StayHailee Steinfeld...more

  • Chained to the Green Light: Katy Perry + Lorde

    Mar 10 2017

    Two artists who haven't released new music since 2013 recently remerged into the limelight: Katy Perry, with her dystopian disco banger "Chained to the Rhythm" and Lorde, with the melodramatic-yet-uplifting anthem "Green Light." Listening carefully, a fact becomes apparent, despite Lorde's insistence that she "hears new sounds" in her mind: there's something familiar lurking beneath both these tracks. And indeed, both were co-written and produced by key figures of the modern pop music firma...more

  • Oscar Week!: La La Land ft. Genevieve Koski

    Feb 24 2017

    With the Academy Awards around the corner, Charlie and Nate try something new: a break down of the movie musical La La Land through two of its key songs, "City of Stars" and "Start a Fire." These numbers, one by composer Justin Hurwitz, the other by Hurwitz and John Legend, might represent the two poles of the film's dramatic structure. But a deep dive into their musical construction reveals leitmotifs and left turns that leave us staggered at the different levels to La La Land's score. Special ...more

  • Zayn, Taylor Swift & The Grammys

    Feb 09 2017

    "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," the new track from Zayn and Taylor Swift, finds two members of the pop pantheon joining forces with producer Jack Antonoff to craft an inexorable hit song. But this duet—between a former One Direction heartthrob aiming to avert the sophomore slump and a megastar returning to the limelight—is far from triumphant. Instead, "Forever" delves into themes of loss and separation—emotions in turn embedded in the very structure and melody of this most unusual duet. Also, Cha...more

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

    Jan 27 2017

    "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 ...more

  • Seduced by the Sound: The Weeknd + Daft Punk

    Jan 12 2017

    "I Feel it Coming" might be the slowest burning jam to hit the charts in ages, in which the Weeknd enlists the robotic hum of Daft Punk to help craft a perfectly calibrated climate of desire. Brilliant, sexy songs don't just appear out of thin air, though, so we reveal how this song's perpetual excitement is hard-won through references to past stars of sultriness like Michael and Marvin while employing its own bag of tricks to turn up the heat. Featuring:•The Weeknd + Daft Punk - I Feel it ...more

  • Dreaming Of A White Christmas

    Dec 16 2016

    White Christmas holds the Guinness World Record for most singles sold and has been covered over 500 times. Pop stars from Elvis to Ella have recorded it, with interpretations from doo-wop to country to punk rock. With new covers each year, it seems listeners have not grown tired of this Tin Pan Alley chestnut. We use our scientific formula for holiday hit success to break down what makes this song so timeless.FeaturingBing Crosby - White ChristmasThe Beatles - Christmas Time Is HereWhitney Houst...more

  • How to Listen to Music in 4 Easy Steps

    Dec 01 2016

    50 episodes in, hosts Charlie and Nate take a step back to think about how they listen to music and try to define what might be called The Switched on Method™. "Hallelujah," by the late, great Leonard Cohen, acts as a perfect test case for breaking down listening into four key layers: 1) The Liner Notes, 2) The Needle Drop, 3) The Scratch, and 4) The Remix. Through this patented process, artistic revelations are all but guaranteed, with Cohen's opus no exception — his modern classic is not all i...more

  • Playing it Cool: How Tove Lo Aims High

    Nov 17 2016

    On the surface, Tove Lo's new hit "Cool Girl" boasts a snappy, earworm chorus and an empowering message of self-reliance. Beneath its chill exterior, though, Lo's song burns with a passion bordering on rage, and sinister sonic undertones suggest an unreliable narrator who doesn't always mean what she says. The more layers one pulls back from this song, the more Lo's source material—the novel and film "Gone Girl"—comes to the fore, turning "Cool Girl" into the kind of pop smash that sticks in you...more

  • Made In America: Toby Keith & Jay-Z

    Nov 03 2016

    Back in 2011, two pop songs dropped with the same patriotic title: "Made in America." But the similarities pretty much end there. Toby Keith's country smash and Jay Z, Kanye West and Frank Ocean's soulful hip hop anthem have little in common except a firm conviction that each song knows what it really means to be American. Five years later, these tracks have a lot to tell us about the role music plays in shaping our national identity, and begs the question: does music truly bring us together? Fe...more

  • Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal - The Chainsmokers, 'Closer'

    Oct 20 2016

    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 m...more

  • The Most Popular Song In The World

    Oct 06 2016

    The Nokia ringtone used to be heard more than a billion times per day, making it one of the most popular songs in the world. We tend to consider cellphone rings as somewhat antithetical to music. There is a whole subset of YouTube videos dedicated to the perverse thrill of watching a delicately beautiful musical moment ruined by the harsh cry of a default ringtone. In this episode, we zoom in on one of these annoying melodies to see if there's not some hidden musica...more

  • Lady Gaga Is A Perfect Illusion

    Sep 22 2016

    Lady Gaga's new single "Perfect Illusion" is the apotheosis of her artistic statement. She is well known for her visual style that too often overshadows her music. But when taken together, it is evident that Lady Gaga is playing all of us because the non-conformity of her outward appearance is reflected back in her compositions. On first listen, her songs may sound like just another catchy pop tune and this is intentional. Gaga lures us close with the sound of pop fame and then hooks us and reel...more

  • How Beyoncé to The Beatles Modulate Your Emotions

    Sep 09 2016

    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. F...more

  • Pop Drops and Chipmunk Soul

    Aug 25 2016

    A strange syndrome is wreaking havoc on the voices of our biggest pop stars. From Rihanna to Justin Bieber, no one is safe from having their beautiful vocals chopped up, screwed down, repitched and repurposed. As dance music takes over the charts and new software grants vocal manipulation at the click of a button, this uncanny production technique has become nearly ubiquitous. But is this ultramodern sound really that new? We dig deep into the roots of the sound of the moment.Featuring:• Kiaara ...more

  • The Gideon and Hubcap Show

    Aug 15 2016

    This episode marks something of a departure from the norm. With Charlie away, host Nate, aka "Hubcap," takes us on a home-show tour of the Scottish Highlands with his traveling minstrel act, The Gideon and Hubcap Show. It's an entirely different kind of summer music spectacle. Featuring:•13,000 Miles - Gideon Irving•Oh Wow - Gideon Irving•Ida Done - Gideon and Hubcap•Safe Word - Gideon and Hubcap•Hebrides Overture – Felix Mendelssohn•Mouth Music - From the Smithsonian Folkways Collection, S...more

  • Breaking Down The House

    Aug 01 2016

    The fingerprints of house music are all over mainstream pop, but much of its sound has been whitewashed. That ubiquitous four-to-the-floor kick and synth bass sound draws from Chicago's queer, black and latinx warehouse club culture. Micah Salkind is working on a book on the history of these communities. Together we break down the sonic origins of this music through a modern track that fully embraces its cultural nexus: "Hideaway" by Kiesza. Micah takes us back to Chicago in the 1980s, and we ex...more

  • Around The World With Drake

    Jul 14 2016

    How do you create a hit that both breaks sound barriers and chart records? Drake has done this with a unique mix of international sounds from Africa, the Caribbean, the U.K. and Canada. But is his chart topping success musical appropriation or celebration? A deep listening reveals diverse influences and musical rhythms that have crossed oceans centuries before "One Dance" was even conceived. Plus, we debut Blinky Bill's "So Strong," his first single off his upcoming solo album.FEATURING- Drake -...more

  • When Good Music Happens To Bad People

    Jun 30 2016

    We have more information about pop stars lives than ever before, but this transparency is not always uplifting for music lovers. Just as we may enjoy following the intimate lives of celebrities on Instagram, we simultaneously uncover how stars abuse their power to marginalize others, commit heinous crimes and inspire mass atrocity. Sometimes skeletons in the closet turn our to be literal skeletons. As listeners, this undoubtedly colors the way we hear our old favorite songs. Join us as we explor...more

  • Justin Timberlake Goes Medieval

    Jun 16 2016

    Summer heat is upon us and so are the jams. Our ears are hooked on Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop The Feeling." What you may not know is that this song leans on the success of mononymous giants: Pharrell, Michael and Handel. If you think that pop is a modern phenomenon, you may be surprised by medieval references and techniques comped by JT. Join us as we break down the hidden hooks and musical tricks that make this song an ear worm.FeaturingJustin Timberlake - Can't Stop The Feeling!Pharrell W...more

  • All About Those Baseline Assumptions About Feminism in Pop

    Jun 06 2016

    With Meghan Trainor's new singles "No" and "Me Too" ubiquitous on the radio dial, a larger discussion about the uneasy relationship between social movements and selling records takes a feminist bent. Memories of the polarizing 2014 hit "All About that Bass" come to the surface, reigniting debates over whether Trainor's songs express radical thought or package it for mass consumption. Or is that distinction a distraction, forgetting that manufactured pop can still pack a political punch? That mig...more

  • Jonas vs. Jonas: Or How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love a Boy Band

    May 19 2016

    A battle between brothers is playing out on the pop charts, a sibling rivalry the likes of which the music industry hasn't seen since 1987, when Michael and Janet Jackson's 1987 "Bad" and "Let's Wait Awhile" jockeyed for peak position on the Hot 100. Today, Nick, the youngest of the Jonas Brothers, looks for redemption from their boy band past in the moody, adult love song "Close" ft. Tove Lo, while middle brother Joe and his band DNCE use the explosive, retro "Cake By the Ocean" to replace a sq...more

  • Purple Lemonade: Prince & Beyoncé

    May 05 2016

    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 o...more

  • Pablo And The Wolves

    Apr 22 2016

    The Life Of Pablo is Kanye West’s latest album. Despite its lack of hits, it has been at the fulcrum of pop music for months. With its gradual online release and its changing track lists, this shapeshifting album is difficult to grasp. We recruit Andrew Marantz from The New Yorker Magazine to break down Pablo and the “Wolves,” a song that embodies the multiplicities of West’s larger project and connects his work to the classical past of Bach and Prokofiev. Featuring: - Kanye West: Wolves - Jay Z...more

  • The Populist Pop of Twenty One Pilots

    Apr 06 2016

    Out of nowhere, Twenty One Pilots has rocketed to the top of the charts with their surprise hit "Stressed Out." Charlie and Nate pull this millennial anthem apart to discover a deep political resonance, the kind that rarely hits the Hot 100. Tracing this sound back in time reveals further connections, to Compton, Motown, and the alternate universe of Parliament/Funkadelic. And, a trip further down the chart suggests that political pop still has no party affiliation. Featuring: •Twenty One Pilots...more

  • American Oxygen

    Mar 23 2016

    How do you collaborate with five people to write a song that captures that national temperature? The stakes may seem high with stars like Alex Da Kid, Candice Pillay, Kanye West and Rihanna, but Sam Harris from X Ambassadors has unlocked the secret. Having penned much of Rihanna's hit American Oxygen, Sam gives an honest account of his process to create a hit and capture the American Dream. And we also get an exclusive peak at X Ambassador's version of the song. Featuring X Ambassadors - Renegad...more

  • Say Hey

    Mar 10 2016

    Listen carefully to almost any hit song these days and you’ll hear musicians screaming “Hey!” What’s the matter with them? Do they really need our attention? We uncover the reason and history behind this phenomenon with guest host Alex Kapelman, producer of the narrative music podcast Pitch. We also listen to new music by Aoife O’Donovan in a new segment called Off The Charts. And we have the fourth and final installment of Nate’s journey back into the popular music of the 20s and 30s. Featuring...more

  • Now I Sia, Now I Don't

    Feb 26 2016

    One of the biggest voices in pop music has no face: Sia. She started her career as a ghostwriter for stars like Rihanna and Beyoncé. Recently she found pop star success with her hit "Chandelier." So with her new album, "This Is Acting," you'd expect to see her front and center. Instead, she hides her face from the media spotlight, covered by wigs, hats and other foreign objects. Lindsay Zoladz from NYMag joins us to discuss Sia's the musician and Sia the media spectacle. Featuring: Sia - Chandel...more

  • B Side: Singing With Mama Jan

    Feb 18 2016

    What do Usher, The Band Perry and Bieber have in common? They all sing with Mama Jan, one of the best vocal coaches and producers in the music business. On this mini episode, Mama Jan talks about what happens backstage before the biggest performance of a lifetime. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Call Your Girlfriend

    Feb 12 2016

    Is it a love song or is it a breakup song? Charlie joins the women of the Call Your Girlfriend podcast to break down their namesake song by Robyn. Also, advice on how to build the perfect wedding playlist. And we check back in with Nate to listen to Cab Calloway on a time traveling adventure back to the 1930s. Featuring Robyn - Call Your Girlfriend Whitney Houston - Dance With Somebody (cappella) Eddie Johns - More Spell On You TLC - Waterfall (Bixel Boy's Remix) Village People - YMCA The O’Jays...more

  • Click With Dick And Other Campaign Anthems

    Jan 29 2016

    What do presidential candidates, professional wrestlers and improv comics have in common? Walk on theme music. As the primary season heats up we dig into the history, meaning and controversies of campaign anthems. Also, comedian and guest co-host Chris Duffy shares some of his favorite lyrics with hidden humor. And we time travel with Nate to 1931 to visit late night Harlem jazz clubs. FEATURING Baha Men - Who Let The Dogs Out? String Quartet No. 19 in C Major K 465 IV Ride Of The Valkyries - Wa...more

  • The Life Changing Magic of Music in 2015

    Jan 17 2016

    Charlie and Nate reveal the life changing magic of how to tidy up the music you missed from last year. Annually, hundreds of publications release best of lists. These lists are supposed to make it easier to discover and celebrate the year in music. But with so many lists how can we know what is truly the best? Well we’ve found the definite source what’s great: Rob Mitchum’s Top Albums in 2015. Also, the major trends you might have missed and Jake Birch’s Mixed On Pop about The Weeknd’s “I Can’t ...more

  • Linus and Lucy

    Dec 17 2015

    Celebrate 50 years of A Charlie Brown Christmas and his eponymous holiday album. If you’re feeling worn out on holiday music, this one never wears old. Its gone triple platinum and charts almost every year on the holiday Billboard. Join us as we dive deep into the brilliance of Vince Guaraldi, the pianist and composer behind Linus and Lucy. We bet you might be hearing the song all wrong. Featuring Vince Guaraldi – What Child Is This, Christmas Is Coming, Linus and Lucy, O Tannenbaum, Christmas T...more

  • Same Here

    Dec 02 2015

    Two unlikely anthems of individuality are rocketing up the charts: Selena Gomez’s “Same Old Love” and Alessia Cara’s “Here.” One is from an established star, the other from a total unknown, but both use similar musical techniques to make their voices heard against the madding crowd. Tune in to hear how the radio dial is richer for the presence of such non-conformist and anti-social jams. Featuring: Lady Gaga – Just Dance Selena Gomez – Same Old Love Alessia Cara – Here Michael Jackson – Billie J...more

  • Searching for Max Martin

    Nov 19 2015

    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 ...more

  • Hotline Hello: Drake and Adele

    Nov 04 2015

    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...more

  • Can’t Get You Out Of My Head

    Oct 22 2015

    As much as we might have crazy love for pop music, pop music also loves to drive us crazy. Earworms that grab you and won’t let go; cookie-cutter compositions that bedevil in their unoriginality; strange new sounds that vex, rankle, confound. How does pop music possess the unique ability to get under our skin? We pull apart some of the stickiest songs to try and find out. And listen to our playlist of songs that drive you mad on Spotify. FEATURING The Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy T...more

  • Justin Bieber’s Existential Suite

    Oct 07 2015

    Bieber’s two new hits, “Where Are Ü Now” and “What Do You Mean,” showcase the prodigal pop star’s soberer side. In each, his realization of the fictive nature of relationships is musicalized through slippery piano chords and disembodied voices. But just two songs does not make a true existential suite, so we collaborated with the mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder to propose a third stanza for Bieber’s epic poem of love and loss. FEATURING Jack Ü – Where Are Ü Now (ft. Justin Bieber) Justin Bieber ...more

  • The Weeknd: Dance of Deception

    Sep 23 2015

    The Weeknd’s deliriously funky chart topper “Can’t Feel My Face” has sparked sweat-soaked dance sessions across the country, but dark notes lurk at the outskirts of this ebullient jam. Chromatic intrusions and Classical laments crowd the scene and invite more clandestine interpretations. What’s this song really about? The secret lies in the scale. FEATURING The Weeknd – Wicked Games The Weeknd – Earned It The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face L’Arpeggiata – Monteverdi ‘s Amor (Lamento Della Ninfa, Rap...more

  • Let’s Talk About Sax

    Sep 09 2015

    The sax is back. This surprisingly funky reed keeps popping up in pop hits from Derulo to Grande. But where did the sax come from? And where did it go? Tighten your embouchure, because we journey to the center of sax in this week’s episode. Also, songs featured in this episode and other great sax tracks are in our Spotify Playlist. *In this episode we incorrectly identified Mr. Sax’s home country as Germany (face palm). He was a native of Belgium. Our apologies to the Sax family. FEATURING Katie...more

  • Kacey Musgraves: Transgressing Country

    Aug 14 2015

    Can you be a country star and critical of the country at the same time? Grammy Award Winner, Kacey Musgraves, has two hit albums that challenge the small-town clichés of modern country music. Is she bucking the trend of big trucks and dirt roads, or embracing an old tradition of transgressing social norms? To answer […] Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Song of Summer: LIVE!

    Jul 30 2015

    In the first-ever LIVE edition of Switched on Pop, Charlie and Nate enter an epic debate over what track should be crowned 2015’s definitive Song of Summer. Charlie’s candidate is the retro anthem “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon, while Nate argues for Jason Derulo’s hot and heavy “Want to Want Me.” Meanwhile, the studio audience on Block Island has their own ideas about what makes a true Song of Summer, raising the stakes even higher. Who will emerge victorious? Only one song can beat the h...more

  • The Dual Meaning of Fetty Wap’s Trap Queen

    Jul 15 2015

    Fetty Wap’s Trap Queen is an unlikely contender for the top 10. It straddles genres between hip-hop and pop in subtle yet mesmerizing ways. Is it a drug song? Is it a love song? Or is it both at the same time? Join us to find out why you can’t get this ear worm out of your head. FEATURING Fetty Wap – Trap Queen Dr. Dre – Still Dre Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • One Direction: Our Modern Day Castrati

    May 29 2015

    One Direction is one of the biggest bands in pop, but unless you’re a preteen or the parent of one, like us you’ve probably never heard a second of their music. Until now. Let’s see if we’ve been missing out, on the latest from Switched on Pop. FEATURING One Direction – Story Of My Life One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful One Direction – Live While We’re Young One Direction – You And I One Direction – Night Changes The Wanted – Glad You Came Alessandro Moreschi (The Last Castrato) – Ave Mar...more

  • The Final Dropout

    May 15 2015

    How does a good pop song end? With a bang, right? As it turns out, explosive endings are kinda over. Songwriters are instead opting to end with a final dropout. Even the biggest pop anthems close with a quiet final moment. In this musical short, Nate, our resident musicologist, offers some theories as to why. FEATURING Taylor Swift – Blank Space One Republic – Counting Stars One Direction – Kiss You Rihanna – Don’t Stop the Music Mozart – Symphony No.41 in C K.551 “Jupiter” 4. Motto Allegro Tayl...more

  • Hidden Sounds in FourFiveSeconds

    May 06 2015

    FourFiveSeconds is one of the more surprising collaborations in recent pop history. Rhianna, Kanye, Sir Paul McCartney. The motley lineup doesn’t dissapoint, serving up one of the most unexpected songs of the year—though not for the reason you’d think. Tune in and wile out while we wax on this whale of a power ballad. FEATURING Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney – FourFiveSeconds Kanye West – Gone Rihanna – We Found Love Rihanna – Don’t Stop the Music The Beatles – Revolution 9 & I’m S...more

  • Carly Rae Jepsen – I Really Like You

    Apr 15 2015

    Carly Rae Jepsen might be the patron saint of Switched on Pop, the show first hatched by Charlie and Nate on a trip down CA-1 while the stereo blasted “Call Me Maybe.” So when we heard she had a new single out we knew we had to stop everything, put off our taxes for one more day, and dig into “I Really Like You” to see if Saint Jepsen could ward off the beguiling sophomore slump. You’ll really really really really really really like this one. Special thanks to the high school students from Nate’...more

  • Hozier’s Waffling of Faith in Take Me To Church

    Apr 02 2015

    Written in the Hozier family basement, Take Me To Church has risen up to be one of the biggest pop hits of the year. But this is not a typical pop song. The unsettling music and provocative lyrics about faith and relationships irk many listeners. But this marriage of form and content also strikes a chord with our own foibles of faith. FEATURING Hozier – Take Me to Church Wintley Phipps – Amen Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Taylor Swift’s Beethovian Blank Space

    Mar 26 2015

    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.FEATURINGTaylor Swift – Blank SpaceNY Magazine – Why You Keep Mishearing That Taylor Swift LyricThis episode first broadcast on the Very Loose Women podcast on Resonance 104.4FM   ...more

  • A Cappella Dreams

    Mar 16 2015

    A cappella, Italian for in the style of the church, refers to music for unaccompanied voices. Just a decade ago it was nowhere near the radio dial. Now it’s everywhere: college campuses, Hollywood blockbusters, prime time reality television, and the Grammys. A cappella hasn’t been this big since Gregorian chant. Why has a cappella returned with such a vengeance? We try to find out why in this four part episode. [Introduction] The Tallis Scholars – Missa Brevis: Kyrie Middlesex A Cappella – Sound...more

  • Radio Africa

    Feb 19 2015

    Reporting live from Kenya, we search for African pop that is making its way into global dance music. The barriers to producing high quality audio are reduced to merely owning a laptop. Now, regional artists are reaching a global audience. We speak to Blinky Bill, leader of the dance/pop/hip-hop group Just A Band, about their unique sound that attracts fans from Tokyo to Nairobi. And we also speak to Jeff Maina, lead designer at Waabeh, the Spotify for African content. FEATURING Fuse ODG – Azonto...more

  • Star Spangled

    Jan 28 2015

    Did you know the melody to the Star Spangled Banner was once a British drinking song? In preparation for the Super Bowl, we uncover how the national anthem has been co-opted and reinterpreted by mega pop-stars. Our understanding of how this song sounds has been shaped by sporting events and the spin pop artists put on it has altered our conception of the national song. FEATURING Beyoncé, Jose Feliciano, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, Whitney Houston – The Star Spangled Banner Iceland Symphony Orches...more

  • Mark Ronson: Funk Politics

    Jan 15 2015

    Did you know the melody to the Star Spangled Banner was once a British drinking song? In preparation for the Super Bowl, we uncover how the national anthem has been co-opted and reinterpreted by mega pop-stars. Our understanding of how this song sounds has been shaped by sporting events and the spin pop artists put on it has altered our conception of the national song. FEATURING Beyoncé, Jose Feliciano, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, Whitney Houston – The Star Spangled Banner Iceland Symphony Orches...more

  • The Imperative Jingle Bells

    Dec 20 2014

    You’ve heard it a million times, you know how to sing it, its ubiquitous during the holiday season, but you’ve never heard a definitive recording. Where does it come from, why is it so catchy, and why of all holiday songs is Jingle Bells the most widely played song? FEATURING She & Him The Cast of Glee Nate Sloan’s Madrigal Singers Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • To Be Young

    Dec 11 2014

    Pop music and youth go together like peanut butter and pickles. The music we hear when we’re young shapes our identities forevermore. In this episode we take three songs that promise an eternal adolescence and put them under microscope to see what makes them tick. Featuring Kesha – Die Young Fun – We Are Young Wiz Khalifa – Young, Wild and Free Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Boom Bang Pow

    Nov 14 2014

    We look at the Rhythms that make us dance, those primal beats, the “Boom Bang Pow” that make us want to move. We’ll ask what makes them work and why is that we’re hearing that untz untz everywhere we go from the dance floor, to the coffee shop, to the insides of our minds? FEATURING Charli XCX – Boom Clap Vengaboys – Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! Jessie J – Bang Bang The Blacked Eyed Peas – Boom Boom Pow Little Richard – Tutti Frutti John Lee Hooker – Boom Boom Cher – Bang Bang Richard Savino & E...more

  • The Oeuvre of Taylor Swift

    Oct 28 2014

    We uncover the common songwriting techniques and chart the musical evolution of Taylor Swift. Featuring songs from her early country period, transitional indie period and her latest pop album, 1989. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Heartbreak

    Oct 28 2014

    Why do we love listening to heartbreak songs? What do songwriters do to emote such strong feelings?FEATURINGAdele – Someone Like YouKacey Musgraves – I Miss YouCeeLo Green – F*** You!Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices