Switched on Pop

Best Arts & Culture podcast Webby 2020 winner about the making and meaning of popular music. Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work magic on our ears & our culture.


  • Red Hot + Blue with Meshell Ndegeocello

    Dec 01 2020

    In 1990 John Carlin and Leigh Blake pioneered a new kind of charity album. Together they co-founded Red Hot, a non-profit music label that uses music to raise money and awareness to for the fight against AIDS. This year is the 30th anniversary of their record: Red Hot + Blue, a platinum tribute album to Cole Porter, featuring artists like U2, Jody Watley, David Byrne, k.d. lang and Annie Lennox. Having released 20 projects and raised over $15M for AIDS charities, Carlin reflects back on Red Hot'...more

  • The Cyndi Lauper Conspiracy (with Sam Sanders)

    Nov 24 2020

    Every song Cyndi Lauper writes is pop perfection according to Sam Sanders, host of NPR’s “It’s Been A Minute.” Many fall for “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” but Sanders's favorite song is the slow burner “All Through The Night,” save for one moment: the synthesizer solo. For Sanders, this solo never fit in. Charlie investigates the source of his musical malady and uncovers how the 80s got its groove. Songs DiscussedCyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have FunCyndi Lauper - Time After TimeCyndi Laup...more

  • ANTHEMS: Missy Elliott — Work It

    Nov 17 2020

    Cultural critic Ivie Ani breaks down how Missy Elliott broke into the pantheon of anthems, and how she changed the scope of who could belong.Songs DiscussedMissy Elliott - Work ItBlondie - Heart of GlassRUN-DMC - Peter PiperRock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three - Request LineSnoop Dogg - Y'All Gone Miss MeVanilla Ice - Ice Ice BabyJustin Timberlake - Sexy BackTrace Adkins - Honky Tonk BadonkadonkMissy Elliott - The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)Lil Kim - Not Tonight (Remix)Missy Elliott - Lose Control...more

  • ANTHEMS: Smash Mouth — All Star

    Nov 10 2020

    When Smash Mouth wrote "All Star,” they knew that it was going to change their lives. But they never expected it would become an anthem played in sports arenas, soundtracked by Hollywood, and embedded into seemingly every internet meme. Darryn King joins the show to break down "The Never-ending Life of Smash Mouth's 'All Star.'" Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • ANTHEMS: Jock Jams — Get Ready For This

    Nov 03 2020

    In 1995, ESPN launched Jock Jams Volume 1, a compilation record that would define the sound of sports for the next quarter century. We listen to the album's biggest songs to define what makes a "Jock Jam," and tell the story of how this record came to define the sound of the stadium.MORERead Emily VanDerWerff's article: “The Jock Jam” megamix inadvertently plays out ESPN’s inner tensions Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • ANTHEMS: Queen — We Are The Champions

    Oct 27 2020

    Freddie Mercury and team made one of the most unusual anthems of all time. “We Are The Champions” has a somber beginning, an uncertain ending and a sprinkling of operatic allusions. Yet more than 40 years after this slow burners debut, it continues to be a staple at sporting events. In the first episode in a four part series, ANTHEMS, Nate and Charlie break down the song’s fundamental elements that place this song in the anthemic pantheon.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/ad...more

  • Cory Henry has Something to Say

    Oct 20 2020

    Cory Henry is a remarkably gifted multi-instrumentalist. Growing up in the church, he started playing the Hammond B3 organ at age 2 and played his first gig at Apollo theater in NYC at age 6. As a professional musician he’s played along side Bruce Springsteen, Boyz II Men, The Roots, Kirk Franklin and many others including the acclaimed group Snarky Puppy which earned 3 Grammys during his tenure playing keys. Now he leads his band Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles who are releasing an album on ...more

  • The Pop Music Forecast (with Lauren Michele Jackson)

    Oct 14 2020

    Shawn Mendes, BTS, Alicia Keys, 24kGoldn, Dua Lipa, Justin Bieber & Chance The Rapper are all in the Hot 100 with songs that attempt to cope with the state of the world. What do they tell us about the sound of popular music and our collective psyche? Charlie is joined by writer, critic and friend of the podcast, Lauren Michele Jackson to offer a meteorological reading of music in late 2020.MORERead Aja Romano's article "With 'Dynamite,' BTS beat the US music industry at its own cheap game" o...more

  • Brandy Clark's Life Is A Record

    Oct 07 2020

    There is a type of country song that loves flawed characters lost on a winding journey ... likely down a dit road. One of the best songwriters in this style is acclaimed artist Brandy Clark. Her credits include a whose-who of country music—Kacey Musgraves, Reba McEntire, Darius Rucker, Lean Rimes—and her albums have received overwhelming critical acclaim. And her debut record, 12 Stories, earned her a 2015 Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.We spoke with Brandy about her new album Your Life I...more

  • Keith Urban on The Speed of Now Part 1

    Oct 02 2020

    Keith Urban is a legend of country. He’s been releasing hit records for two decades now. Each album he describes as a portrait of his life in that moment. On his latest work, The Speed Of Now Part 1, has Urban disregarding country convention (as he’s known to do), and collaborating with a diverse roster of musicians who contribute an eclectic array of sounds funk guitar, breakbeat drums and even EDM style programming. The result is less straight ahead country and more the unique sound of Keith U...more

  • Mickey Guyton sings truth to Country Music

    Sep 29 2020

    Mickey Guyton spent a decade of fits and starts trying to make a career in country music. But now in recent months she’s having a country music moment releasing vulnerable songs that use her experiences of rejection, exclusion and racism as inspiration. Charlie speaks with Guyton about her breakout songs “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” and “Black Like Me,” as well as what it took for her to make it onto one of country musics most beloved stages, the American Country Music Awards.Songs DiscussedMi...more

  • Disclosure: Where Energy Flows

    Sep 22 2020

    Howard and Guy Lawrence, the brothers behind Disclosure, found global acclaim in 2012 with their song “Latch” ft. Sam Smith which blended house and dubstep in a doo-wop time signature. Since, they have collaborated with many of pop’s most sought after vocalists (The Weeknd, Lore and Khalid to name a few) in an ever evolving vision of dance music. On their latest album release, “Energy,” Disclosure channels sounds and samples from the global south. Listen to find out how they make the energy flow...more

  • THE 5TH — MOVEMENT IV, What Beethoven Would Have Wanted

    Sep 18 2020

    When we listen closely to the Fifth, we hear a testament to self-expression and determination. Which means that we get to decide how to honor this symphony today, whether that means taking a break from Beethoven to commission new works from underrepresented composers, bringing new audiences into the fold by staging concerts in communities outside of the concert hall, or re-writing Beethoven’s works to make them reflect our present moment. Featuring:Anthony McGill, ClarinetAndrea Moore, Musicolog...more

  • THE 5TH — MOVEMENT III, Putting the Classism in Classical

    Sep 15 2020

    Before Beethoven’s time, classical music culture looked and sounded quite different. When Mozart premiered his Symphony 31 in the late 1700s, it was standard for audiences to clap, cheer, and yell “da capo!” (Italian for “from the beginning!”) in the middle of a performance. After Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony debuted in the early 1800s, these norms changed — both because the rising industrial merchant class took ownership of concert halls and because of shifts in the music itself.As we explored in...more

  • THE 5TH — MOVEMENT II, From Struggle to Victory

    Sep 11 2020

    In the first movement of his famous symphony, Beethoven sets up a battle between hope and despair. The dark side of that spectrum is represented by the anguished opening notes of the first movement: DUN DUN DUNNN. Over the course of the next three movements, Beethoven keeps trying to overcome his dark fate with bright major melodies, and keeps getting defeated.With each high and low, we begin to understand that this battle isn't just about major and minor keys, it's about the will to live in the...more

  • THE 5TH — MOVEMENT I, A Battle Brewing

    Sep 08 2020

    You know Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. You’ve heard it in films, advertisements, parodied in Saturday morning cartoons and disco-ized in Saturday Night Fever. The Fifth Symphony is a given, so much so that it blends into the background. You know this piece, but how well? Of all the symphonies of the bewigged classical "greats," why is this one still stuck in our heads over two centuries later?To answer these questions, we’re giving Beethoven’s famous symphony the same treatment we give to pop song...more

  • Announcing THE 5TH with The New York Philharmonic

    Sep 04 2020

    A podcast mini-series in IV movements explaining and reconsidering Beethoven’s game-changing symphony. Episodes air Tuesdays & Fridays starting Sept 8th. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Resistance is Dancing in the Streets (ICYMI)

    Sep 01 2020

    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.SPONSORWe use Reason Studios to make music on Switched On Pop. You can use Reason too free for 30 days: http...more

  • Benee and the Art of the Sad Banger

    Aug 26 2020

    How does it feel to become a global pop star under lockdown? Benee’s “Supalonely” had been out for over 5 months when in March of 2020, it quickly became the second most popular song on TikTok. The song’s hook “I’ve been lonely… Supalonely” clearly reflected a global collective malaise about the pandemic—and people wanted to dance to it. She wrote this “sad banger” to help get over a breakup. And now the song changed her life. Not along before she’d dropped out of college to make music while wor...more

  • 90s Music Canon

    Aug 18 2020

    Matt Daniels, editor of the publication The Pudding, wanted to find out what songs from his youth would last into the future. So he designed a study that would test if Gen-Z had a grip on 90s culture. Hundreds of thousands of participants provided over 3 million data points. Daniels parsed through the data for insights. Sadly, the majority of his most beloved songs have not survived even one generation. Though most had been forgotten, he found that just a few songs had staying power across gener...more

  • Bruno Major restyles the Great American Songbook

    Aug 11 2020

    Bruno Major blends old song structures from The Great American Songbook with contemporary production on his new album “To Let A Good Thing Die.” The result is a nostalgic, yet contemporary collection of love songs for the Netflix and chill generation. We speak with Bruno Major about how he draws inspiration from the past to craft something new. He breaks down his songs "Nothing," "To Let A Good Thing Die," and "The Most Beautiful Thing," which he wrote with Finneas. And we unpack how Bruno Major...more

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

    Aug 04 2020

    Beyoncé' has released "Black Is King," a visual album based off of music that she released last year. We're rerunning that piece so that you can place the visual component of "Black Is King" in context to the music. For the live action remake of the Lion King, Beyoncé, (who voices Nala in the film), recorded and curated a companion soundtrack called The Gift. She worked with leading Afropop stars to expose the music of the continent to a global audience. In her piece, “Diversity Is in the Detail...more

  • folklore: taylor swift's quarantine dream

    Jul 28 2020

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

  • The Women Reclaiming Nu-Metal ft. Rina Sawayama

    Jul 21 2020

    Nu-Metal, the mid 90s creation that blended metal, rap and pop, is one of the most critically derided pop genres. So it is strange that this genre is having a comeback. But whereas its first incarnation was dominated by men, now women are leading the way. Artists like Poppy, Grimes and Rina Sawayama have recast the heavy guitars, sung-rap lyrics and gaudy aesthetic to fight back the patriarchy.CORRECTION: Charlie does not play pinch harmonics, but rather natural harmonicsSONGS DISCUSSED Korn - F...more

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

    Jul 14 2020

    Listen closely to the start of the 2015 hit "Hey Mama" by David Guetta, Nicki Minaj, Afrojack, and Bebe Rexha and you'll hear voices intoning a chant: "Be my woman, girl, I'll be your man." It's sample from a 1948 recording called "Rosie," and it's the propulsive hook of "Hey Mama," driving the song to over a billion views on YouTube. The voices in the sample belong to CB Cook and ten other unidentified prisoners at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, aka Parchman Farm. These men never got credi...more

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

    Jul 07 2020

    The 2020 song of summer competition is underway. We asked you for your favorite songs and put them in a head-to-head tournament. Find out which is the song for this very unusual summer. ROUND 1 - TikTok JamsSAINt JHN - "Roses" Imanbek Remix Megan Thee Stallion - Savage Remix (Feat. Beyoncé)The Weeknd - Blinding LightsROUND 2 - Protest AnthemsBeyoncé - Black ParadeAnderson .Paak - Lockdown YG - FTPROUND 3 - Breezy BopsDua Lipa - PhysicalChloe x Halle - Do ItHarry Styles - Watermelon SugarROUND 4 ...more

  • The Many Colors of Lady Gaga’s ‘Chromatica’

    Jun 30 2020

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

  • I Am America (w Shea Diamond and Justin Tranter)

    Jun 30 2020

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

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

    Jun 23 2020

    In 1999 filmmaker Baz Luhrmann released the song “Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen,” a 7-minute-long graduation speech set to downtempo electronic music. It was a highly unlikely hit that made its way across continents and eventually into the ears of a young Avery Trufelman via the album NOW That’s What I Call Music Volume 2. For over 20 years, Trufelman has applied the song’s advice to her daily life: “wear sunscreen… be nice to your siblings… do one thing every day that scares you.” This unu...more

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

    Jun 19 2020

    Quarantined in his family’s music room, musician Jacob Collier has been remarkably productive. Known for his polymathic musical talents, Collier has used this time to reflect on, and release new music. His latest song “All I Need,” was created with new technology that let him record remotely with his collaborators Mahalia and Ty Dolla $ign. The song is uplifting. It modulates into arcane keys that evoke the euphoria of newfound love. Collier’s also been convening live streams with artists like T...more

  • What it means to make music in 2020

    Jun 16 2020

    The pandemic has upended the art and business of making music. Producing, performing and releasing — every aspect is new and uncharted. The need for social distancing means that it’s unsafe to collaborate in small studios or perform for large crowds — not to mention finding the right thing to sing about in such a charged moment. We’re telling three stories about how artists are working within these constraints: Ricky Reed and John-Robert have found a way to generate a creative spark remotely, Ja...more

  • Big Floyd And The Influence Of Houston Chopped N Screwed Music

    Jun 09 2020

    In a Rolling Stone article titled “He Shook The World: George Floyd’s Legendary Houston Legacy”, writer Charles Holmes reveals the musical past of the man who has become an international symbol for justice since his murder. Known as “Big Floyd” in his Houston community, he was part of the city’s Screwed Up Click, a hip-hop collective centered around the now-legendary producer DJ Screw. This underground scene created a style of slowed-down “chopped and screwed” hip-hop that seeped into mainstream...more

  • Carly Rae Jepsen: Meeting The Muse

    May 26 2020

    They say you should never meet your idols, that you’ll only be disappointed. We had this possibility in mind going into our first interview with Carly Rae Jepsen, the pop star who inspired us to start our podcast Switched on Pop when Nate taught “Call Me Maybe” as a case study in music theory. Six years later and hundreds of pleading emails later, the time had come to meet the muse and unpack her latest offering, Dedicated Side B. In the course of composing her last two albums, E•MO•TION and Ded...more

  • Why lo-fi is the perfect background music

    May 19 2020

    Lo-Fi hip-hop has emerged as a hugely popular genre and internet subculture. Its millions of loyal fans rely on curated lo-fi playlists and live-streams to write to, study to and even fall asleep to. Heck, we even wrote a good chunk of our book to Spotify’s lo-fi beats playlists. There’s just something about those ambient, spacey, plodding beats that place us in a state of determined zen. But what of its musical roots? Who are its stars? And why, despite its mass following on YouTube, Spotify an...more

  • Eurovision Lives! (with Netta)

    May 12 2020

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

  • How To Soundtrack A Villain: Killing Eve

    May 05 2020

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

  • Did Fiona Apple Just Release a Perfect Album?

    Apr 28 2020

    Since 1996, Fiona Apple has only ever had one hit, “Criminal.” Nonetheless, every album she’s released has been nominated for a Grammy. Her newest work, Fetch The Bolt Cutters, has received near universal acclaim. Apple’s songs are simultaneously idiosyncratic and relatable, tackling unusual themes for pop songs: middle school bullies, uncomfortable dinner conversation, toxic masculinity and female friendship. Apple accompanies her idiosyncratic lyrics with homemade percussion and only minimal p...more

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

    Apr 21 2020

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

  • Were We Wrong About Kanye West?

    Apr 14 2020

    A lot of people miss the old Kanye. The last time we reviewed his music was back in 2016 when he released the work-in-progress album “The Life Of Pablo.” Since then, Kanye has put out four albums: Ye, Kids See Ghost (with Kid Cudi), Jesus Is King, and Jesus Is Born (with the Sunday Service Choir). In the same period he’s also caused a media ruckus with his union to the Kardashian family and his foray into political punditry. His public persona has largely overshadowed his musical offerings. But ...more

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

    Apr 07 2020

    The band 5 Seconds Of Summer have just released their fourth studio album, Calm. Lead vocalist Luke Hemmings and bassist Calum Hood join us to talk about some of Australia’s biggest hits. In the first half of our conversation we discuss the catchy rhythms and vocals in Tame Impala’s song “Borderline,” a song driven more by vibe than conventional structures. Then on side B, 5SOS break down their new single single “Wildflower” and its countless 80s references. One sound in particular, the “stab” o...more

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

    Apr 05 2020

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

  • D’Angelo and the Legacy of Voodoo (with Faith Pennick)

    Mar 31 2020

    In the year 2000, D'Angelo released Voodoo—with some help from Questlove, Angie Stone, Raphael Saadiq, and a band of jazz veterans—an album that has cast a long shadow with its unique sound of stripped-down soul, Faith Pennick, who literally wrote the book on the record, joins to break how D'Angelo broke the "shiny suit" regime of R&B, explore how he conjured the spirits of J Dilla, Prince, and Roberta Flack, and consider how one video almost derailed his career.Check out D'Angelo's Voodoo b...more

  • "Happy Birthday" is the Worst (with Anne-Marie)

    Mar 24 2020

    With Nate’s birthday around the corner, it’s time to admit that our go-to birthday song is actually the worst to sing to someone. There are reasons both musicological and cultural why this wooden celebratory number needs to go, ranging from funereal rhythms to Wagnerian opera to the Wizard of Oz. Tune in to uncover the horror of “Happy Birthday” and consider some of the alternatives on offer, including a recent Anne-Marie hit that takes birthday wishes and turns them around 180º.Songs DiscussedF...more

  • Bad Bunny Has A Message For Your Mom

    Mar 17 2020

    Latin Trap megastar Bad Bunny may be best known to American audiences for his feature on Cardi B’s #1 “I Like It’, but the Puerto Rican native is known to music-lovers worldwide for more than just those few bars. Bunny started off as a student in Universidad de Puerto Rico studying audio visual communications. He was bagging groceries at a supermarket in PR when he posted his song ‘Diles’ on SoundCloud. That moody, 808-fueled track turned into a record deal, as well as huge feature opportunities...more

  • The Fire & Fury Of Overcoats

    Mar 10 2020

    Gone are the days of a clear dividing line between “mainstream pop” and “conscious” music. Many of the world’s highest-grossing pop stars are climbing the charts with lyrics that seem to get right at the very weight of human existence. They’re tackling climate change, and drug addiction, crippling anxiety, inequality, sexism and racism. It’s a fascinating shift to witness.That’s why this week, we’re especially thrilled to be chatting with folk-pop duo Overcoats. JJ Mitchell and Hana Elion are kn...more

  • Can't Help Falling in Lauv (the interview)

    Mar 03 2020

    This week, Charlie talks to Lauv, the singer, songwriter and producer behind unfailingly catchy tracks such as “Mean It” and “I Like Me Better.” Lauv’s a master at making the sad feel fun—masking themes of anxiety and betrayal with upbeat, percussive production. He even does a bit of the opposite, too, by infusing his joyful songs with vulnerability and emotional complexity. You’ll soon be able to hear all of that and more on his debut studio album, ~how I’m feeling~, out later this week. Our co...more

  • What Happens When Justin Bieber Samples Your Music

    Feb 25 2020

    When Bristol-based producer Laxcity logged onto Twitter to find out that Justin Bieber sampled his music, he was at first unphased. The sampled material came from a royalty-free sample pack on Splice.com, free for Splice users to add to their track. Then accusations of theft started rolling in. Another artist, Asher Monroe, had used the same sample just a few weeks earlier and he accused Bieber of copying the idea. Laxcity inserted himself into the argument to show that the so-called offending s...more

  • Return Of The Guitar: Halsey, 5 Seconds of Summer, Joji

    Feb 18 2020

    In 2019 guitar made a comeback in the top 10. According to analysis from Hit Songs Deconstructed, about a third of all songs featured the electric guitar, a nearly 10% jump from the year before. In 2020 this trend isn’t stopping. Recent releases by Halsey, 5 Seconds of Summer and Joji all prominently feature electric guitars tones. They reference 90s nu-metal, grunge and metal genres. More than a nostalgic nod, these songs draw from an era that was self-consciously “alternative” to convey disaff...more

  • Look At Selena Gomez Now with Justin Tranter & Ian Kirkpatrick

    Feb 11 2020

    Selena Gomez has her first #1 song on the Hot 100. “Lose You To Love Me” is a confessional look at her past five years of heartbreak and health challenges. By contrast, her single “Look At Her Now” is a testament to moving on and moving up. Each of these songs inhabits a different musical and lyrical world and we were lucky to get to speak with her collaborators on the songs to take us behind the scenes of how they came to be. Justin Tranter and Ian Kirkpatrick are two of today’s most in-demand ...more

  • Five Directions: How do the solo efforts of One Direction stack up?

    Feb 04 2020

    The boy band One Direction has been on hiatus for nearly five years, yet only now have all of the members of the group released a solo album. But how do these efforts from Niall, Liam, Harry, Louis and Zayn stack up? Vox Writer (and One Direction fan) Alexa Lee compares albums as a challenge for each member to rise to their greatest artistic potential.SONGS DISCUSSED Zayn - Let Me Zayn - Entertainer Niall Horan - Nice To Meet You Niall Horan - Put A Little Love On Me Liam Payne - Strip That Down...more

  • Post Malone has us Running in Circles

    Jan 28 2020

    Post Malone has confounded your hosts since he emerged on the scene, so this week we sit down to try and get to the bottom of our cycles of attraction and repulsion through deep analysis of his current hit, "Circles." Along the way, we discuss trenchant questions such as: How is the minor IV always the saddest of all chords? Why does Posty tend to sound like a certain ruminant mammal? And, what happens when you plug Tchaikovsky into a Wu Tang name generator?Songs Discussed: Post Malone - Circles...more

  • Hopes and Fears of Mac Miller, Future, Drake, and Billie Eilish

    Jan 21 2020

    Mac Miller, Future and Billie Eilish all have good and bad news to share. On Miller’s posthumous album, Circles, he exposes personal struggles with fame, addiction, and mental illness — sobering topics given his unintentional drug overdose last year. Yet at the same time we hear him searching for “good news,” practicing self care and accepting that “there's a whole lot more” waiting. Future & Drake’s celebration of material excess also finds them “working on the weekend” just to keep up appe...more

  • Dua Lipa’s Disco Fever

    Jan 14 2020

    Dua Lipa remembers the disco era in her hit “Don’t Start Now.” What may sound like just another dance floor track, upon deeper listening unfolds as a celebration of the genre. References to Gloria Gaynor, Chic, Giorgio Moroder and The Bee Gees are all waiting here for the curious listener to uncover. But so are the Italian and Daft Punk inspired bass lines. Yet the song is more than just one big disco ball cliché. It is brilliantly written too. We asked our listeners to help us highlight the bes...more

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

    Jan 07 2020

    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 Sa...more

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

    Dec 31 2019

    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 t...more

  • Dolly Parton's America (with Jad Abumrad)

    Dec 24 2019

    There are icons, and then there’s Dolly Parton. The country singer-turned-actress-turned-cultural phenomenon has produced a nearly unparalleled body of work, in both quantity (Parton is the sole or co-author of more than three thousand songs) and in legacy. Despite releasing her first album over 60 years ago, Parton’s songs are still covered and performed live by today’s pop artists. Presidential candidates are still selecting her songs as official walk-on music. So what is it exactly that makes...more

  • Who's Afraid of the Sound of TikTok? (w Cat Zhang)

    Dec 17 2019

    Bass distorted to the edge of audibility; voices croaking out dark and violent lyrics; a hacked-together DIY aesthetic. This isn't a fringe musical movement, this is the sound of TikTok, the video app used by millions in Generation Z. And soon enough it might also be the sound of pop as we know it. Cat Zhang from Pitchfork stops by to clue us into the sonic reality of music's newest platform, from Gordon Ramsay to pumpkins screaming in the dead of night.Songs Discussed Savage Ga$p, 93FEETOFSMOKE...more

  • Paper Planes, Chandelier & What the #@%! is Timbre? (with Constance Grady)

    Dec 10 2019

    We hand over the hosting duties to Constance Grady, book reviewer for Vox.com, to discuss our new book/baby - Switched on Pop: How Popular Music Works and Why it Matters, and go deep on two specific concepts we haven’t touched nearly enough on the show: timbre (with the help of Sia’s “Chandelier) and sampling (via M.I.A.’s iconic “Paper Planes). The book of course goes further, devoting a full chapter each to sixteen different concepts we’ve explored on the show (think harmony, modulation, synco...more

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

    Dec 03 2019

    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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

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

    Nov 26 2019

    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 FeaturedElectric Guest - DollarStevie Wonder - Uptight (Eve...more

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

    Nov 19 2019

    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 ...more

  • When Pop and Classical Collide (with James Bennett II)

    Nov 12 2019

    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 Minnes...more

  • Unlocking the Rhythms of Rosalía

    Nov 05 2019

    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 ...more

  • Rihanna Party! (with Gina Delvac)

    Oct 29 2019

    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 alb...more

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

    Oct 22 2019

    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 way...more

  • A Brief History of Men Singing Really High

    Oct 15 2019

    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 lo...more

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

    Oct 07 2019

    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, Arian...more

  • Mastering Music (with Dallas Taylor of Twenty Thousand Hertz)

    Oct 01 2019

    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 DiscussedLizzo - JuiceKanye West - HeartlessLed Zeppelin - Stairway to heavenPink Floyd - MoneyDaft Punk - Get LuckyMetallica - The Day That Never ComesDJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - He's the DJ, I'm the...more

  • Jazz 1959

    Sep 24 2019

    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 Hol...more

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

    Sep 22 2019

    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 ...more

  • The “Baby Shark” Phenomenon (with Andrea Silenzi)

    Sep 17 2019

    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...more

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

    Sep 13 2019

    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 Ep...more

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

    Sep 10 2019

    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 l...more

  • ICYMI: How to 'Make Me Feel' with Lizzo

    Sep 03 2019

    "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 ar...more

  • ICYMI: Why is 90s Pop so Bizarre?

    Aug 27 2019

    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 ...more

  • Songs of Summer Call-in Special

    Aug 20 2019

    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 s...more

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

    Aug 13 2019

    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 Sa...more

  • Beyoncé's Gift To Africa (with Ivie Ani)

    Aug 06 2019

    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 Switche...more

  • LCD Soundsystem and the Unbearable Sameness of Restaurant Playlists

    Jul 30 2019

    Why is it that every hip restaurant plays the same music? When Eater restaurant editor Hillary Dixler Canavan kept hearing similar songs while dining for work assignments, she compiled a playlist of what she heard. It included songs by LCD Soundsystem, M83, Grimes, Biggie, Beck and the like. Her subsequent article about this music, “This Is Every Generically Cool Restaurant’s Playlist,” went viral. She’d captured the elusive sound of small plate dining. But what left her guessing was why this so...more

  • The $50M Beat Marketplace That Broke the Billboard

    Jul 23 2019

    Lil Nas X licensed the beat for “Old Town Road” from an e-commerce platform. He originally bought a non-exclusive copy of the backing track for just $29.99 from a 19 year old Dutch record producer called YoungKio. And he’s not the first hitmaker to do so. Desiigner, Bryson Tiller and Queen Naija have all made hit songs from internet beats. These beats are big business. The arguable market leader, BeatStars, has paid its producers over $50M since its inception in 2008. The platform allows produce...more

  • Shawn Mendes and the Rhythm of Rhyme

    Jul 16 2019

    Shawn Mendes’ hit song “If I Can’t Have You” is so ridiculously catchy that Charlie had it stuck in his head after the first chorus. How is that possible?! Declamation, or the way that text is set to music, is a big part of the song’s appeal—every word that Mendes sings is perfectly in rhythm. In this episode we use Mendes’ latest track to explore creative declamation throughout history. How do artists from Whitney Houston to Queen to Taylor Swift keep finding new ways to sing the word “somebody...more

  • Space, The Final Frontier: Madonna, Stephen Puth and Street Studios

    Jul 09 2019

    Find out how music creates a feeling of space in this three part episode. First, we may not realize it when we listen to Madonna's new record, but the location of her music is essential. In exploring her catalogue we hear the sound of different eras by just the space evoked in a song. Second, the same is true for Stephen Puth who uses spacial effects for brilliant creative purposes on his song "Look Away." When music is recorded in a studio with perfect acoustics, engineers manipulate that audio...more

  • What BTS's "Boy With Love" ft. Halsey Can Teach Us About K-pop

    Jul 02 2019

    How should we listen to K-pop? This music has become a global phenomenon, charting on the Billboard Hot 100, taking over social media feeds, and touring the world. In particular, the group BTS has captured the ears of millions, building an Army of fans along the way. As uninitiated listeners, the language and culture barrier left us uncertain about how to approach listening to, let alone breaking down their music. So we sought out the support of Dr, Suk-Young Kim, Professor of Critical Studies a...more

  • "Prince Ali" and Why We're All Music Theorists

    Jun 25 2019

    Fans are not happy with Will Smith's update of the classic Disney song "Prince Ali" in the live-action Aladdin. Their complaint? The new "Prince Ali" is slow, sluggish, and dull. Indeed, the Smith version is 8 BPM (beats per minute) slower than Robin Williams's 1992 original—a subtle musical detail. We dig into the properties of tempo and key to understand why people have such a visceral reaction to a relatively small change and consider whether it suggests that we—meaning all of us humans, from...more

  • Why Does Every Intro Sound Like It's Underwater? (Live)

    Jun 18 2019

    Ever notice that wobbly, drunken and underwater sound common in so many contemporary pop songs? In an era of pristine recording quality, music producers are referencing old and impure technologies to add character to their recordings. Digital cassette hiss, tape wobble, and vinyl crackle are intentionally added to productions as a facsimile of "authentic" recording technology. Why the sudden nostalgia? Where does this underwater sound come from? What does it mean? How is it made? Find out on a l...more

  • The Man Behind the Rocketman with Giles Martin

    Jun 11 2019

    Rocketman is a spectacle the size of Elton John, four films in one. It contains a biopic, jukebox musical, addiction recovery story and a romance between friends. The soundtrack ties the story together by taking historical liberties to tell a fantastical story about one of the best living songwriters. Charlie is joined by Vox’s film critic, Alissa Wilkinson to breakdown the film and deconstruct how its melodic themes create an emotional arc. He also speaks with Giles Martin (son of 5th Beatle Ge...more

  • The Greatest Pop Stories Never Told (with Jessica Hopper)

    Jun 04 2019

    On the KRCW series Lost Notes, Jessica Hopper plumbs pop music history for the most important stories never told. She brings us a bevy of lost gems, from Fanny, an all-female quartet of rockers that was one of David Bowie's favorite bands, to the Freeze a late-70s punk outfit now coming to terms with the offensive lyrics of their youth. Tune in to discover another side of pop, one that's rarely been heard.  Songs Discussed:Fanny - Charity Ball (Live Version)Fanny - Ain't that PeculiarThe Freeze ...more

  • Should You Care About Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber?

    May 28 2019

    A pop star collaboration is a foolproof way to grab the attention of two audiences at once. But do more collaborators actually make a better song? Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber put this question to the test in their new song "I Don't Care." The track takes us inside the head of an antisocial party hopper, who'd rather be back home with his lover. Nate and Charlie investigate how the songwriters works that message into their music and speak with Ross Golan about Ed Sheeran's songwriting brilliance...more

  • The Smooth Sound of NPR Morning News

    May 21 2019

    What do Bach and smooth jazz have in common? Both score the unmistakable theme song for NPR's flagship show Morning Edition, listened to by millions across the country every day since 1979. This is undeniably pop music, a daily soundtrack to the lives of many. So why does it sound the way it does? And why, after forty years, why does NPR want to change it?Featuring:BJ Leiderman - Morning Edition Chuck Mangione - Feels So GoodHerbie Hancock - ChameleonGeorge Benson - Breezin'Kenny G - Songbird Do...more

  • Is There An Indie Rock Conspiracy? (Featuring Joywave)

    May 15 2019

    Many people write us with musical maladies and conspiracies. A recent one caught our attention. Daniel Armbruster, lead vocalist of indie band Joywave, has been hearing the same melody in tracks across the Alternative Songs charts. He believes that this hook could be the secret to securing a spot on the Billboard 100. Nate and Charlie investigate this issue, traveling from the contemporary charts all the way back to a fundamental musical scale. The stakes are high: is it possible to hack your wa...more

  • Lizzo And The End of Genre (with Sam Harris of X Ambassadors)

    May 07 2019

    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...more

  • Taylor Swift Causes a PANIC!

    Apr 30 2019

    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 Of...more

  • Sounds Like Teen Spirit (with Elle Fanning)

    Apr 23 2019

    Pop is inseparable from reality TV singing competitions. From Eurovision to American Idol, scores of stars got their start in singing competitions. We’ve long overlooked this influence on pop, but were inspired to look into the phenomenon by the release of Teen Spirit, a pop-musical film about a fictional singing competition . What is the history of these shows? Who got their big break on one? Is there a singing show musical aesthetic? We hit the books and records to find out, and the answers mi...more

  • Lil Nas X: Country at the Crossroads

    Apr 16 2019

    Lil Nas X currently holds the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his surprise hit “Old Town Road.” But though the song is dripping with country twang, you won’t find it anywhere on the country charts. That’s because Billboard removed it, on the grounds of not having enough “musical elements” of country—a move that in turn left many wondering if the vanishing had something to do with Lil Nas X, a black artist, venturing into a field dominated by white musicians. We dig deep into the hist...more

  • Billie Eilish is a Different Kind of Pop Star (ft. FINNEAS)

    Apr 09 2019

    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 t...more

  • BONUS: Bhi Bhiman's 'Peace of Mind' Episode 1

    Apr 08 2019

    Switched on Pop is pleased to present Episode 1 of Peace of Mind --the new album (released as a podcast) by singer/songwriter Bhi Bhiman.In this episode Bhi digs into the fear and madness that characterizesso much of this crazy time in America. Guests include author DaveEggers, Snap Judgement's Glynn Washington and renowned socialpsychologist, Lee Ross. The song for this episode is “Brother Can YouSpare Some Peace of Mind?” Subscribe to Peace of Mind here:https://fanlink.to/PeaceofMind Learn mor...more

  • Bhi Bhiman Puts the Music Before the Message

    Apr 02 2019

    Bhi Bhiman joins to explain the "nerd punk rock" behind releasing his new album Peace of Mind with an accompanying podcast. Since Bhiman explores issues like deportation on the track "Beyond the Border," there's a lot to say about each song. Even though he tackles tough topics, Bhiman make sure he puts music before the message. "Beyond the Border" summons a vast range of funky influences, from Van Halen to the Allman Brothers, to ask what America really means. Featuring•Bhi Bhiman:Beyond the Bor...more

  • Comeback Kids: The Jonas Brothers are Back

    Mar 25 2019

    After a six year hiatus, Nick, Joe, and Kevin Jonas are back with a new single and the stakes couldn't be higher. With each brother attaining a higher plane of celebrity during their time off, the three must achieve pop success or face public humiliation. How do they do it? With three ingredients that ensure a hit song in 2019: 1) whistle while you work, 2) Homer the funky drummer, and 3) tune in, turn in, drop out. Songs Featured: Jonas Brothers – SuckerEdward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Ho...more

  • Lost & Found: The Drama of Pop Form with Emily King

    Mar 19 2019

    Live from SXSW: Grammy nominee songwriter Emily King didn’t set out to write a perfect pop song with “Remind Me.” Instead, she bent the rules of song structure to fit her message: the magical feeling when you find something you’ve been long missing. Mirroring this theme, the chorus doesn’t come when you expect it. The climax arrives late, after an “aha” moment that fills in the forgotten details. Each instrument fits perfectly together like a lost memory coming into focus. Even after she finds w...more

  • How Streaming Changed the Sound of Pop

    Mar 12 2019

    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 repla...more

  • Top 40 Activism with Justin Tranter

    Mar 05 2019

    Can political protest exist within the confines of commercial popular music? Songwriter Justin Tranter is equal parts songwriter and activist. You've likely heard his contributions to songs by Britney Spears, Julia Michaels, Selena Gomez, Janelle Monae and Ariana Grande, but unless you were paying close attention, you may have missed the essential subtext in his work. As an LGBTQ activist and board member of GLAAD, Justin brings his activism into Top 40 pop music lyrically and otherwise. On this...more

  • What Makes An Award Winning Song?

    Feb 20 2019

    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 howAnd The Awards Go To:Best Chord Progression: H.E.R. - "Hard Place" & "Focus"Best Throwback: Silk City & Dua Lipa ft. Diplo & Mark Ronson - "Elect...more

  • What Makes a Song Sexy?

    Feb 05 2019

    Author Courtney Smith joins to offer her expertise on an urgent topic in advance of Valentine's Day: Can we abstract the sexiest songs of all time into a universal list of arousing musical qualities? We try our best by examining five decades of pop sexiness, discovering lyrical lingerie, and consider the most (and least) seductive instruments.Featuring:Nina Simone - I Want Some Sugar in My BowlDonna Summer - Love to Love You BabyINXS - Need You TonightPortishead - Glory BoxKings of Leon - Sex on...more

  • The Deep History of '7 Rings'

    Jan 29 2019

    "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 An...more

  • Do You Believe in Life After Autotune?

    Jan 23 2019

    Auto-Tune may be the most divisive effect in music. Artists have protested it publicly at the Grammys, and critics have derided the effects for its inauthentic reproduction of the voice. And yet, nearly a decade since Jay-Z prophesied the death of Auto-Tune, the sound is alive and thriving in contemporary pop and hip-hop. Journalist Simon Reynolds has written a definitive history of Auto-Tune for Pitchfork that fundamentally changed how we hear this sound. This deep dive criss crosses geology, t...more

  • Slay Bells, All Year Long

    Dec 26 2018

    This winter season unwrap a deep dive through a pop subgenre of monumental importance: non-holiday songs that feature sleigh bells, from Bonnie Tyler to Nas, On Side B, we rebroadcast our episode on Mariah Carey's classic "All I Want for Christmas Is You"...and more sleigh bells. Featuring:•The Beach Boys - God Only Knows•Gustav Mahler - 4th Symphony, I•Michael Jackson - Jam•Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the Heart •Miles Davis - On the Corner•Nas - Halftime•Kygo ft. Conrad Sewell - Firestone•M...more

  • Look What You Made Us Do

    Dec 11 2018

    Four years into Switched On Pop, Charlie and Nate finally reveal what was behind the entire series. We may have not been totally honest with you from the beginning. Back in 2014 we were more pop skeptics than fanatics. The genre was, to some degree, the sugar that made the musical analysis medicine go down. And then something happened. Just as people started to listen to the show, we too began to open our ears. Now, in our 100th episode, Charlie interviews Nate about how transforming the way you...more

  • Entering Beard Phase with Mike Posner

    Nov 27 2018

    Mike Posner has written hits for himself like "I Took a Pill in Ibiza," and for stars from Justin Bieber ("Boyfriend") to Maroon 5 ("Sugar"), so he has insights for days on what makes a pop song work. We dig into Mike's excellent new track "Song About You," which leads to an exploration of songs that reuse the same melody for verse and chorus—from Prince to The Boss to Post Malone. Last, we consider "beard phase": a moment of artistic reinvention that every artist has in their career, whether yo...more

  • 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 what ...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 GirlKaty ...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

  • 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. Visit...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 numbe...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•Billy ...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 Timber...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

    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 Michaels - I Miss You...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 - SPACE Learn 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 Tarras ...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 Love...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 Killer Learn more about your ad choices. Visi...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 OvercoatsLizzo Learn 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 Anym...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•George...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 scen...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 + Grey ft...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 firmament....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 Comin...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

    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 musical craft present in the ubiquit...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, Scotti...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 Femini$m 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 & 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 Learn more a...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

  • Why You Should Get Switched On Pop

    Oct 27 2014

    Welcome to Switched on Pop, a show about how popular music works and why it matters hosted by musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding. We break down the music in pop hits to help you find those "a-ha" moments. Whether you’re a pop fanatic or skeptic, teenager or octogenarian, non-musicians or professional composer, every music lover will discover something ear-opening in Switched on Pop  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices