Show cover of Switched on Pop

Switched on Pop

A podcast all 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. From Vulture and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

Tracks

Why do new Christmas songs fail?
In case you missed it last year: why are there no new Christmas songs? One one hand, there's more holiday songs than we’ll ever need. Every year pop stars drop countless holiday-themed album. But despite the annual glut of Christmas releases, few of these new songs join the rotation of holiday classics. On Billboard's Holiday Hot 100 chart right now, there's only four songs from the past ten years that have made it to the top fifty. We listen to each of these holiday hits—from Kelly Clarkson, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and the Jonas Brothers—and and ask if these songs can go the distance and become the 21st century members of the Christmas music canon. Songs Discussed - Playlist Kelly Clarkson - Underneath the Tree Ariana Grande - Santa Tell Me Justin Bieber - Mistletoe Jonas Brothers - Like It's Christmas The Bird and the Bee - You and I at Christmas Time Loretta Lynn - White Christmas Blue Woody Goss - One for One Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - 8 Days of Hannukah Jenny Owen Youngs, Tancred, John Mark Nelson - Fireside Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
27:49 29/11/22
The Art of Flow
In hip-hop, what draws us to an artist is not just the content of their lyrics but how they deliver them. Along with tapping your foot to the rhythm, understanding something called “flow” is essential to understanding hip-hop as a whole. In this episode of Switched On Pop, we interview genre icon DJ Jazzy Jeff on the concept of flow: what it is, how it applies to all music – not just hip-hop – and how any rapper’s flow can be analyzed under his guidelines. Taking his word for it, we put our magnifying glasses on to look at the bars of our favorite rappers, from Megan thee Stallion to Babytron. Songs Discussed: The Notorious B.I.G. - Big Poppa Mary J. Blige - Family Affair A Tribe Called Quest - The Hop Danger Mouse, Black Thought - Aquamarine BabyTron - Crocs & Wock’  RXKNephew - Take Three JID - Better Days (feat. Johnta Austin) Megan Thee Stallion - Not Nice Megan Thee Stallion - Cocky Af Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
36:43 22/11/22
Willow Smith rocks harder
Coping Mechanism, Willow's new album, is her heaviest music yet. Charlie and Willow chat about the making of the new record and the many multitudes of rock music. Music Discussed The Anxiety - Meet Me At Our Spot Willow - Maybe It's My Fault, UR Town, Human Leach, PrettyGirlz, Lipstick, Why, Breakout, Hover Like a Goddess, Curious/Furious, Ur A Stranger Yungblood - Memories (with Willow) Deftones - Sextape Radiohead - I Will Straight Line Stitch - What You Do To Me Killswitch Engage - My Curse Lamb of God - Redneck Primus - Lacquer Head Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
26:01 15/11/22
The Sound of Sapphism
Tegan & Sara and King Princess have found themselves placed under the banner, "sapphic pop," a term recently coined referring to music by and/or for sapphics (a.k.a. women or femme folks attracted to other femme folks). Journalist Emma Madden defines the folk-inspired sound as having a “soft tactile approach” that’s “more sensual than it is sexual.” This umbrella folds in everyone from indie pop veterans Tegan & Sara to nonbinary artists like King Princess; even artists like Hozier and Sufjan Stevens are, improbably, considered sapphic pop, with their music having the same sonic qualities of other songs dedicated to feminine yearning. From articles popping up in multiple news outlets to the majority of Taylor Swift’s openers for this upcoming tour (looking at MUNA, girl in red, and Phoebe Bridgers, specifically), the terminology of “sapphic pop” has come to define a scene almost out of nowhere. This week on Switched On Pop, we explore exactly what sapphic pop is, where it came from, and how artists feel about it – even asking Tegan & Sara and King Princess directly. You can listen wherever you get podcasts. Songs discussed Clairo – Sofia King Princess – Talia girl in red – i wanna be your girlfriend Hozier – Cherry Wine (live) Alex G – Sarah The Velvet Underground – I Found A Reason Sufjan Stevens – To Be Alone With You Cris Williamson – Shine On Straight Arrow Jaylib, Madlib, J Dilla – The Red Taylor Swift – betty Brittany Howard – Georgia MUNA, Phoebe Bridgers – Silk Chiffon Tegan & Sara – Call It Off Tegan & Sara – Smoking Weed Alone King Princess – 1950 King Princess – I Hate Myself, I Want To Party King Princess – Pussy is God Kate Bush – Why Should I Love You? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
33:45 08/11/22
Scary Pockets funkify pop classics (with Lizzy McAlpine)
Scary Pockets is the musical collective that has been transforming pop classics into funk anthems for over half a decade. Each week they release a new cover on YouTube featuring razor-sharp instrumentalists and a rotating cast of virtuosic lead singers. Amazingly, each of their 200-plus covers is arranged on the fly, in a span of about 90 minutes—capturing the talent and spontaneity of a group of musicians at the top of their game. We here at Switched on Pop were struck by the band's ability to infuse familiar songs with syncopation and backbeat, and rack up millions of views in the process, so we reached out to Scary Pockets's leaders—guitarist Ryan Lerman and keyboardist Jack Conte—to arrange for Nate and Reanna to be flies on the wall during their creative process. After documenting the behind-the-scenes dialogue that led to a slow-burning interpretation of the Bee Gees's 1977 classic "Staying Alive," we called up Ryan, Jack, and the song's lead vocalist, Lizzy McAlpine, to hear their insights on making a song that everyone knows sound fresh and unfamiliar  Songs Discussed Bee Gees - Staying Alive (Scary Pockets Cover) Paul McCartney and Wings - Arrow Through Me (Scary Pockets Cover) Beatles - Maxwell's Silver Hammer Coldplay - Fix You (Scary Pockets Cover) Parcels - Tieduprightnow Bill Withers - Just the Two of Us (Scary Pockets Cover) Justin Bieber - Peaches (Lizzy McAlpine Cover) More on Scary Pockets Watch the video of Scary Pockets and Lizzy McAlpine covering "Staying Alive" See them LIVE with David Ryan Harris & John Scofield, November 16 at Echoplex in Los Angeles! Tickets Subscribe to their YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/scarypockets Merch Store: https://www.scarypocketsfunk.com Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/scarypockets Listen on Spotify: Scary Pockets Instagram: @scarypockets  Musician Credits: Vocals: Lizzy McAlpine BGVs: Sophia James, Arielle Kasnetz Guitar: Ryan Lerman, Will Graefe Wurlitzer & Synth: Jack Conte Bass: Travis Carlton Drums: RJ Kelly Audio: Engineered & mixed by Caleb Parker Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
33:45 01/11/22
Up late with Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’
 A Taylor Swift album is just not a collection of new music, it’s an exploration of a theme. For the last eight years, each release has embodied a single idea. Reputation marked a turn to the dark side, Lover a return to the light, and her pair of albums Folklore and Evermore painted acoustic, fictional landscapes. Each album propels fans to find covert lyrical connections to her personal life, and easter eggs to past compositions. Whereas Swift's pop star contemporaries have focused their energies on becoming business moguls, Swift has gone deeper into songwriting and receiving accolades in the process. In September 2022, the Nashville Songwriting Association International awarded Swift the Songwriter of the Decade award. In her acceptance speech she says, “writing songs is my life’s work and my hobby and my never-ending thrill.” Now she continues that thrill collaborating with her frequent producing partner and friend of the show, Jack Antonoff, on Midnights, her 10th studio album (not counting her recent “Taylor’s version” re-recordings of past releases). On Midnights Swift builds a lyrical and sonic world that takes place across “13 sleepless nights.” Nate and Charlie listen closely to hear how she constructs this late night feeling.   More Nate’s article on “Taylor Swift and the Work of Songwriting” for the Contemporary Music Review Journal John Hull's Soundfly course on Advanced Synths and Patch Design for Producers Music Discussed: Taylor Swift - Anti-Hero, Lavender Haze, Maroon, Question, Snow On the Beach, Mastermind, Bejeweled, Vigilante Shit, Labyrinth, Midnight Rain, You’re On Your Own Kid, You Belong With Me, Stay Kevin “Reese” Saunderson - Just Want Another Chance Ray “Renegade” Keith - Terrorist P.A. Mix Burial - Archangel  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
38:17 24/10/22
Steve Lacy brings bedroom pop to the Billboard top
It’s the song that launched a thousand TikTok videos – or over 500,000 to be exact: Steve Lacy’s “Bad Habit.”  The track is a smooth, psychedelia tinged ode to yearning, currently spending its third week on the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Lacy is an artist dedicated to shifting form and convention, from his records with alternative R&B band The Internet to his productions for artists like Mac Miller and Vampire Weekend. Even in his solo work, his songs are unpredictable, deftly moving through genre in the vein of artists like Prince and Stevie Wonder.  “Bad Habit” specifically, though, is rooted in the genre of bedroom pop, a scene slowly gaining mainstream traction. With this track, Lacy is taking the sound that’s seeped through TikTok and Spotify to the top of the charts. On this episode of Switched On Pop, we dig deep into Lacy's career and his ability to craft immaculate melodies. Songs Discussed: Steve Lacy, “Bad Habit” Sam Smith, Kim Petras, “Unholy” The Internet, “Dontcha” The Internet, “Special Affair” The Internet, “Palace/Curse (feat. Tyler, The Creator & Steve Lacy) Steve Lacy, “C U Girl” Steve Lacy, “Dark Red” Steve Lacy, “Only If” Steve Lacy, “Like Me” Steve Lacy, “Playground” Steve Lacy, “Static” Stevie Wonder, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
34:51 18/10/22
Why it hurts to release a record (with Sylvan Esso)
Earlier this year, the members of Sylvan Esso took a gamble, making their "most free and wild and strange" album yet: No Rules Sandy. And to add to the overall theme of lawlessness, Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn decided to do something equally as free and radical: they decided to forgo the typical multi-year album cycle as well as a standard promo campaign. While wrapped in what Amelia calls a “PR cocoon,” she began to think about the less tangible aspects of the album rollout process, and wanted to enlist other musicians (as well as Switched On Pop) in exploring certain aspects of what it means to be an artist to answer the question: why does it hurt to release records? Songs Discussed Sylvan Esso - Your Reality Sylvan Esso - Cloud Walker Sylvan Esso - Didn’t Care Sylvan Esso - Look At Me Sylvan Esso - How Did You Know Sylvan Esso - Sunburn MUNA - Number One Fan MUNA - Silk Chiffon MUNA - What I Want Bartees Strange - Heavy Heart Bartees Strange - Co Signs Bartees Strange - Hennessy Wilco - Cruel Country Maggie Rogers - Alaska Maggie Rogers - That’s Where I Am Maggie Rogers - Anywhere with You Maggie Rogers - Want Want Maggie Rogers - Begging for Rain Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
47:40 11/10/22
Santigold sings Spirituals
After a four-year hiatus – and a name drop on a Beyoncé remix – musical polymath Santigold is back with a brand new album. Known for her signature blend of genre-defying songcraft, the artist’s fourth studio album Spirituals is one of her most artistically challenging projects yet. It’s another venture into what she does best: addressing heavy themes through toe-tapping melodies. From Nate’s personal favorite, 2016’s “Can’t Get Enough of Myself,” to “My Horror,” a pan-genre sonic vision has always been present in her career. On this episode of Switched On Pop, Santigold speaks about her new record, being a mother, and the emotions that went into making Spirituals.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
26:36 04/10/22
The future of music pt I
In part 1 of our Vergecast: Future of Music series, Alex Cranz talks with Switched on Pop's Charlie Harding about the trends in music today that make new songs out of old material, and whether it's foreshadowing the future of pop. Further reading: Selena Quintanilla Will Sound Older on Her New Posthumous Album Michael Jackson songs removed from streaming services to 'move beyond' fake vocals controversy Shred with Green Day, with some help from AudioShake Invasion of the Vibe Snatchers Music discussed: Como Te Quiero Yo A Ti - Selena My Way - Frank Sinatra I'll Be Seeing You - Billie Holiday We Can't Stop - Miley Cyrus bad guy - Billie Eilish Through The Wire - Kanye West Breaking News - Michael Jackson Real Love - The Beatles Free As A Bird - The Beatles 2000 Light Years Away - Green Day Betty (Get Money) - Yung Gravy Genius of Love - Tom Tom Club Fantasy - Mariah Carey Big Energy - Latto I'm Good (Blue) - David Guetta, Bebe Rexha Bang Bang - Rita Ora, Imanbek Higher Love - Kygo, Whitney Houston Don't Start Now - Dua Lipa Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
33:53 27/09/22
Lady Gaga & The Pequeños Monstruos
After an enlightening experience at Lady Gaga's Chromatica Ball, producer Reanna Cruz takes a look at the connection between Gaga's music and the Latin sounds she's engaged with over the years, from traditional rancheras to the rhythm of reggaeton. Songs discussed: Lady Gaga, “Alejandro” Ace of Base, “Don’t Turn Around” ABBA, “Chiquitita – Spanish Version” Madonna, “La Isla Bonita” Rihanna, “Te Amo” Vittorio Monti, Sarah Nemtanu, Chilly Gonzales, “Csárdás” Lady Gaga, “Americano” Rosemary Clooney, The Mellomen, “Mambo Italiano (with the Mellomen)” Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, “Despacito” La Flavour, “Mandolay” Lady Gaga, “Dancin’ In Circles” Alejandro Fernández, “Como Quien Pierde una Estrella” Pedro Fernández, “Yo…El Aventurero” Lola Beltran, “Cucurrucucu Paloma” War, “Cinco de Mayo” Santana, The Product G&B, “Maria Maria (feat. The Product G&B)” Lady Gaga, “Dancin’ In Circles” Justin Bieber, “Sorry” French Montana, Swae Lee, “Unforgettable” Tego Calderon, “Pa’ Que Retozen” Rosalia, J Balvin, “Con Altura” Juan Gabriel, “Abrázame Muy Fuerte” Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, “Rain On Me” Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Arca, “Rain On Me – Arca Remix” Lady Gaga, “Fun Tonight” Lady Gaga, Pabllo Vittar, “Fun Tonight – Pabllo Vittar Remix” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
32:40 20/09/22
Invasion of the Vibe Snatchers
Why do so many songs sound familiar? Because the number of chart topping interpolations — songs built off of old hits — has roughly doubled in the five years. It’s everywhere, you can’t escape because many people are embracing it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
26:55 13/09/22
Into It: Song of Summer 2022
Who had the song of the summer? Sam Sanders chats with Switched on Pop's Charlie Harding and Reanna Cruz about whose song (and album) is in the running: Beyoncé, Bad Bunny, Lizzo, or Kate Bush?  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
17:09 06/09/22
Learning to love the Killers (maybe)
Are you like Nate? Is there one artist that, every time you hear them, you can't help it—you start to grimace, sweat, seethe. You can't explain it, but there's something about them that you just. can't. stand. For Nate, that band is the Killers. Lots of people love this band, they've been around for almost two decades, they're practically an institution! So why can't he get past his hang up? Charlie and Reanna step in to help break down what it is about the Killers that rankles their normally open-eared colleague so, and then step back to consider what it is that makes us think we hate the bands we do—and whether we can change those opinions. Songs Discussed The Killers - Human, All These Things That I've Done, When You Were Young, Mr. Brightside, Deadlines and Commitments, Where the White Boys Dance, boy, Shot at the Night, The Man, Tranquilize Ariana Grande and Zedd - Break Free Erasure - A Little Respect Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
32:47 30/08/22
K-Pop Chartbreakers: BLACKPINK, Girls’ Generation, NewJeans, IVE
A lot has happened in the world of Kpop this summer, from Girls’ Generation sugar coated banger “Forever 1” marking a triumphant return from a five year hiatus, to the ascendance of newcomers NewJeans, whose R&B infused sounds have quickly taken over the charts. But it's the return of BLACKPINK that has lit up the world literally in pink. Get a full deep dive on the songs at the top of the Kpop charts on the latest episode of Switched On Pop, where hosts Charlie Harding and Nate Sloan speak with journalist Kristine Kwak. Songs Discussed Psy, SUGA - That That J-hope - MORE BLACKPINK - Pink Venom Girls’ Generation IVE - LOVE DIVE NewJeans - Attention SWV - I’m So Into You Rihanna - Pon De Replay Missy Elliot - Work It 50 Cent - Just A Lil Bit Taylor Swift “Look What You Made Me Do” Panjabi MC, JAY-Z - Mundian to Bach Ke Britney Spears, Madonna - Me Against the Music Justin Timberlake - What Goes Around Comes Around Snoop Dogg - Drop It Like It’s Hot Snoop Dogg - I Wanna Rock The Notorious B.I.G. - Kick in the Door Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
34:12 23/08/22
Demi Lovato Searches for "Substance" In Pop-Punk Perfection
Demi Lovato has found herself in many avenues over the past few years – from releasing a tell-all documentary to uncovering extraterrestrials – but 2022 finds them traveling back in time to the sound of the late 90’s and early 2000’s: pop-punk. On this episode of Switched On Pop, we check out her two latest singles, “Skin of My Teeth” and “Substance,” and through focusing on the latter, pull out what, exactly, pop-punk is, and how Demi embodies the genre’s ever-evolving sound in their new track. Songs Discussed: Demi Lovato - Substance Demi Lovato - Skin of My Teeth Demi Lovato - Sorry Not Sorry Demi Lovato - La La Land Demi Lovato - Heart Attack Turnstile - MYSTERY Bring Me The Horizon - Chelsea Smile Blink-182 - Dysentery Gary Misfits - Astro Zombies My Chemical Romance - Astro Zombies Blink-182 - What’s My Age Again WILLOW, Travis Barker - t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue Machine Gun Kelly - bloody valentine Citizen - Stain La Dispute - Such Small Hands Mom Jeans - Edward 40hands Rise Against - Savior NOFX - Whoa on the Whoas Jarrod Alonge, Sunrise Skater Kids - Pop Punk Pizza Party Paramore - For A Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic Fall Out Boy - Of All The Gin Joints In The World Soundgarden - Black Hole Sun The Police - Message in a Bottle Modern Baseball - Tears Over Beers Jimmy Eat World - Sweetness Good Charlotte - The Anthem The Offspring - The Kids Aren’t Alright Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
25:08 16/08/22
Beyoncé's ‘Renaissance’ Era
Beyoncé’s new album Renaissance is one of her most ambitious albums yet. On this week’s episode of Switched On Pop, we discuss Renaissance with beloved guest Sam Sanders, host of the new Vulture podcast Into It. In Sanders’ words: “it’s trying to do a lot” – but in the best way. The album incorporates seemingly every decade of contemporary popular dance music from Chic’s “Good Times” to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.” Much of the early discourse surrounding the album was marred by a confusing controversy over a small sample (we try to resolve the issue musicologically) – but the references on Renaissance are worth listening closely to, acting as a guide through essential dance music. The album is an homage to the black and queer innovators of dance; with samples and interpolations of songs both niche and mainstream flying by, like a DJ set curated by house music pioneers.  On Renaissance, Beyoncé goes out of her way to cite, credit and compensate her influences, resulting in a triumph of musical curation. Just look at “Alien Superstar”: the song credits twenty-four people, largely due to Beyoncé’s musical nods, rather than an exercise in boardroom style songwriting. Sanders says “the liner notes themselves are showing you that this woman and her team have a PhD in music history.” Listen to Switched On Pop to hear how Renaissance honors dance music innovators and finds new modes of expression in the genre.  Subscribe to Into It with Sam Sanders Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://bit.ly/3vE4jqf Listen on Spotify: https://bit.ly/3bB7Vmf Listen elsewhere: https://bit.ly/3BI0Nz0 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
31:43 09/08/22
Into It: The Business of Beyoncé
Subscribe to Into It with Sam Sanders Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://bit.ly/3vE4jqf Listen on Spotify: https://bit.ly/3bB7Vmf Listen elsewhere: https://bit.ly/3BI0Nz0 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
39:08 05/08/22
"It's About Damn Time" for Another Lizzo #1
In the middle of a long, hot summer 2022, the people have spoken, and the people want to dance. Lizzo's "About Damn Time" just replaced Harry Styles's "As It Was" to become the top song on the Billboard Hot 100. Powered by retro instrumentation, a propulsive groove, meme-worthy lyrics, and a generous dose of slash chords (not the Guns 'n Roses guitarist, the harmonic voicing), Lizzo's hit song marks a deepening of the sound she established in past tracks like "Juice." But on other tracks from her latest album Special, Lizzo aims for new aesthetics. "Coldplay"—featuring a rare Chris Martin vocal sample—opts for emotional honestly over pithy affirmations. With the upbeat "Grrrls," Lizzo found herself in an online controversy: she had used a ableist slur in the song's lyrics. Taking the criticism as an opportunity to learn, Lizzo chose to replace the offensive line—but have other artists of pop's past always followed suit when met with fan feedback? Songs Discussed Lizzo - About Damn Time, Juice, Coldplay, Grrrls Daft Punk, Pharrel Williams - Lose Yourself to Dance Michael Jackson - Rock With You, They Don’t Care About Us Quelle Chris, Chris Keys - Sudden Death Coldplay - Yellow Beastie Boys - Girls, Sure Shot Taylor Swift - Picture to Burn Lady Gaga - Born This Way Orville Peck - Born This Way Ella Fitzgerald - How Long Has This Been Going On Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
30:30 02/08/22
Elvis, Big Mama Thornton, Doja Cat, and the Long Legacy of “Hound Dog”
Baz Luhrmann’s hit box office hit biopic Elvis has spurred new interest in the music of The King. Elvis Presley’s streaming subscribers has grown by two million listeners on Spotify since the film’s release according to ChartMetric, and if you’re hearing a lot more “Hound Dog” these days, it might be partially due to the success of Doja Cat’s hit song “Vegas,” which updates – and interpolates – the song for contemporary listeners.  Doja Cat’s version samples from the original 1953 “Hound Dog,” sung by Big Mama Thornton and written by acclaimed songwriter team Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (whose credits also include Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” and Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me”). The original is a sauntering blues song with a raunchy tale about a two timing man; Presley, who is frequently said to have stolen the song from Thorton, instead sings a tepid lyric about an actual dog, and radically changes the groove.  But in an interview with Rolling Stone, Stoller says Presley didn’t steal the song at all. Rather, he adapted one of many covers of the song, specifically the version performed by the Las Vegas lounge act Freddie Bell and the Bellboys. Their “Hound Dog” borrows its upbeat rhythm from a song responding to the original “Hound Dog,” titled “Bear Cat.” It’s a similar rhythm to the one we hear on the contemporary Doja Cat version, “Vegas,” which heavily features samples of Thornton’s original vocals: listening closely reveals a song that synthesizes a complicated music history by uniting the best parts of the many versions of “Hound Dog.”  Listen to the latest episode of Switched On Pop and uncover the long legacy of “Hound Dog.” Songs Discussed Big Mama Thorton - Hound Dog Elvis - Hound Dog Doja Cat - Vegas Esther Phillips - Hound Dog Jack Turner - Hound Dog Rufus Thomas - Bear Cat Freddie Bell and the Bellboys T.L.C. - No Scrubs Sporty Thievz - No Pigeons  W.C. Handy - St. Louis Blues Duke Ellington - Conga brava Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Didn’t It Rain Fats Domino - Mardi Gras in New Orleans Dave Bartholomew - Country Boy Little Richard - Slipping’ And Sliding’ Jack Harlow - Dua Lipa Future - Puffin on Zootiez Hitkidd, Gorilla - F.N.F. (Let’s Go) Bad Bunny - Después de la Playa Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
23:54 26/07/22
We Won’t Go Back: Pop Music and the Fight For Reproductive Rights (w MILCK and Ann Powers)
On June 24th 2022 the Supreme Court decided Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v Wade and asserting that the Constitution of the United States does not confer a right to abortion. The decision marked a seismic moment in politics and culture that has affected everyone’s lives, and the world of pop music is no exception. Musicians started responding immediately, from Cher to Olivia Rodrigo: on social media, at their shows, and in their music. Critic Ann Powers has been chronicling the reactions in a running list at NPR, and she joins in the second half of the episode to talk about the long history of artists speaking out—and singing—about reproductive rights.  One artist who wasted no time responding to the Dobbs decision is the singer and songwriter Connie Lim, aka MILCK. Her song “We Won’t Go Back,” composed with Biianco, Autumn Rowe, and Ani DeFranco, came about after Politico published an article in May with the leaked draft of the Dobbs decision, telling the world in no uncertain terms that the Supreme Court was considering striking down Roe. MILCK found herself protesting in D.C., this time with her camera ready. The chants she heard there became the first sonic element of “We Won’t Go Back.” Songs Discussed MILCK, Biianco, Autumn Rowe, Ani DeFranco - We Won’t Go Back MILCK - Quiet Ani DeFranco - Play God  Poison Girls - Mandy Is Having a Baby Cyndi Lauper - Sally’s Pigeons Leslie Gore - You Don’t Own Me Robyn - Giving You Back Joni Mitchell - Little Green L7 - Pretend We’re Dead Everlast - What It’s Like Madonna - Papa Don’t Preach Lauryn Hill - To Zion Megan Thee Stallion - Plan B We need your help. We are conducting a short audience survey to help plan for our future and hear from you. To participate, head to vox.com/podsurvey, and thank you! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
30:21 19/07/22
Harry Styles and the Sledgehammer Horns
As we hit the dog days of summer, the artist that’s started to soundtrack pool parties across the country is former One Direction bandmate and contemporary sex symbol Harry Styles. In May, Styles released Harry’s House, an album propelled by the number one hit “As It Was.” Despite having critical and commercial success, a barb often thrown at the album is the idea of it being inoffensive: pleasant, “easy listening” music apt for an elevator, grocery store or, perhaps, a sushi restaurant.  Fans of Styles have warmly accepted this, and have come to love his sly appreciation of different decades of pop music history. This latest album reveals an interesting connection to one era in particular: the 1980s and the percussive, full-bodied horn sections that came with it.  The first track on Harry’s House, “Music for a Sushi Restaurant,” offers a whole chorus of just horns, in an homage to one of Styles’s musical touchstones, Peter Gabriel. These 80s “sledgehammer horns” connect to a deep well of 80s grooves—from Lionel Richie's "Up All Night" to Janet Jackson and Herb Alpert's "Diamonds," —as Styles's strives to achieve the same effortless funk and propulsion of his brassy icons. MORE Sledgehammer Horns playlist Every Olivia Wilde reference Vulture found on Harry’s House   Songs Discussed Harry Styles - As It Was, Music for a Sushi Restaurant, Daydreaming Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer Lionel Richie - Up All Night Donna Summer - She Works Hard for the Money Sheila E. - The Glamorous Life Steve Winwood - Higher Love Janet Jackson and Herb Alpert - Diamonds Herb Alpert - Rise Notorious B.I.G. - Hypnotize  We need your help. We are conducting a short audience survey to help plan for our future and hear from you. To participate, head to vox.com/podsurvey, and thank you! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
24:56 12/07/22
ICYMI: The 90s’ Most Unlikely Hit (with Baz Luhrmann)
In 1999 filmmaker Baz Luhrmann released the song “Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen,” a 7-minute-long graduation speech set to downtempo electronic music. It was a highly unlikely hit that made its way across continents and eventually into the ears of a young Avery Trufelman via the album NOW That’s What I Call Music Volume 2. For over 20 years, Trufelman has applied the song’s advice to her daily life: “wear sunscreen… be nice to your siblings… do one thing every day that scares you.” This unusual song has left a lasting impression, and yet for Trufelman, it makes no sense that “The Sunscreen Song” was commercially successful. We investigate the song’s many architects — novelist Kurt Vonnegut, Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich and Baz Luhrmann himself — to unpack one of the internet’s first conspiracy theories that turned into Billboard’s greatest outlier.  We need your help. We are conducting a short audience survey to help plan for our future and hear from you. To participate, head to vox.com/podsurvey, and thank you! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
53:02 05/07/22
Beyoncé's House
The world stops with a Beyoncé drop. On Monday, June 20th, our prayers were answered with “Break My Soul,” the lead single off of her upcoming album, Renaissance. The song draws from several places of inspiration: lyrically, it’s a cathartic dance-floor ode to liberation, soundtracking the current cultural moment that some have called the “Great Resignation.” Sonically, though, “Break My Soul” is Beyoncé’s foray into house music – a genre that the chair of the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, Jason King, summarizes as “a highly rhythmic dance music created by mostly Black and brown artists in the late 1970s and early 1980s,” propelled by a fanbase of queer and trans communities of color. There’s been an undeniable buzz that Beyoncé is “bringing house music back.” And from Charli XCX to Drake, it does feel like house music is currently having a moment in mainstream pop music, paralleling the original rise of the subculture from the ruins of disco. But the genre “has always been here,” in King’s words, and has decades of history. In this episode of Switched On Pop, we unpack house music – and how Beyoncé’s “Break My Soul” fits into the genre.   Songs Discussed Beyoncé - “BREAK MY SOUL” Beyoncé - “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” Drake - “Falling Back” Thelma Houston - “Don’t Leave Me This Way” Robin S - “Show Me Love” Bob Sinclair, Steve Edwards - “World Hold On (Children of the sky)” Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj - “Swish Swish” Charli XCX - “Used To Know Me” Livin’ Joy - “Don’t Stop Movin’” Mr. Fingers - “Can You Feel It” Madonna - “Vogue” Black Box - “Ride on Time” CeCe Peniston - “Finally” Aqua - “Barbie Girl” Big Freedia - “Explode” Beyoncé - “Formation” Drake - “Nice For What” Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers - “Get Lucky” Destiny’s Child - “Say My Name - Maurice’s Last Days Of Disco Millennium Mix” Beyoncè - “FIND YOUR WAY BACK” Madonna - “Deeper and Deeper” Janet Jackson - “Together Again” C & C Music Factory - “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
32:18 28/06/22
Robert Glasper on jazz, basketball, and his score for "Winning Time"
Robert Glasper is the only artist to have an album debut in the top 10 of 4 different Billboard charts. He's a musical polymath whose resume ranges from Kendrick Lamar to Herbie Hancock. At the piano, he serves up jazz licks worthy of Mary Lou Williams before segueing into a Nirvana cover. Glasper brings his diverse skill set to bear on his latest project, the score for the HBO series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, composed in collaboration with "Succession" soundtracker Nicholas Britell. It's not just Glasper's musical chops that made him the perfect candidate for the gig: in a past life, he was a baller himself. Nate spoke with Glasper about crafting the sound of the 1980s, improvising soundtrack themes on the spot, and what jazz and basketball have in common. Songs Discussed Robert Glasper - Over, FTB, "Winning Time" and "The Photograph" Themes Nicholas Britell - "Succession" and "Moonlight" Themes Morris Day and The Time - Get It Up Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
24:29 21/06/22
Scoring Stranger Things with Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein
We recently deconstructed how Kate Bush’s 1985 song “Running Up That Hill” has found itself at the center of culture due to a placement in the Netflix, eighties, horror, sci-fi show, Stranger Things. For that episode we excerpted an interview with the composers of the show who shared great insights on how they created the iconic theme song and spooky soundscape for the most streamed show of 2022. But we want to share the full conversation with you because they have equally cheeky as well as valuable musical offerings to share. Surprisingly, this show steeped in 80s nostalgia, has a more contemporary soundtrack than you you might think.  Songs Discussed Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Stranger Things, Photos in the Woods, He’s Here, Soldiers, Agents, Starcourt Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill Tangerine Dream - Sorcerer Theme Song John Carpenter - Night Vangelis - Main Titles (Blade Runner) S U R V I V E - A.H.B. S U R V I V E - High Rise  Merzbow - Woodpecker No.1 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
21:55 16/06/22
Kate Bush, Stranger Things, and a hit song four decades in the making
Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” enters the latest season of Stranger Things during a brooding high-school hallway scene right out of the John Hughes playbook, and it has since bounded up the charts, hitting No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and performing better now than when it peaked at No. 30 upon release. Stranger Things, whose latest season has logged more viewer minutes for Netflix than any other English-language release to date, has leaned heavily on ’80s nostalgia since its premiere in 2016: Its iconic theme song is reminiscent of John Carpenter B-movies, and, in an email, used-instrument resale site Reverb.com tells us the show has boosted interest in analog synthesizers. “Running Up That Hill,” then, is a natural fit for the show, and it plays a pivotal, spoiler-ridden plot point in the show, requiring us to hear the hook multiple times throughout the season — a perfect earworm. But its success is owed to more than just repetition. It waffles between major and minor, and the show’s composers, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, told Switched on Pop that both it and the rest of the Stranger Things score have “moments of darkness and lightness in it, constantly trading places.” Plus, they’re composed from the same set of instruments: classic synthesizers and drum machines like the LinnDrum. The song is part and parcel with the soundtrack itself: “There’s these little melodies that we always refer to as ‘And then the Kate Bush part comes in,’” Dixon says. Listen to Switched On Pop to hear how Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” is an exquisite song placement and hear how it blends seamlessly with the Stranger Things soundtrack. MORE Check out Reverb Machine’s sounds of Kate Bush Reverb.com made a tutorial on the synth sounds of Stranger Things The story of the Kate Bush renaissance from The Ringer Songs Discussed Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Stranger Things Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill Dead Or Alive - You Spin Me Round Talking Heads - Psycho Killer Musical Youth - Pass the Dutchie  Carly Rae Jepsen - Cut To The Feeling The Weeknd - Blinding Lights  Prince - When Doves Cry Phil Collins - Sussudio Tangerine Dream - Sorcerer Theme Song John Carpenter - Night S U R V I V E - A.H.B. S U R V I V E - High Rise  Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Eggo in the Snow Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - She Wants Me to Find Her Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Starcourt Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Eight Fifteen Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Boys and Girls Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - The Ceiling is Beautiful Kate Bush - Waking the Witch Kate Bush - Hammer Horror Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
31:13 14/06/22
So your song went viral on TikTok. What’s next?
On TikTok, pop stars — Halsey, FKA Twigs, and Florence Welch among them — have been complaining a lot lately about their labels forcing them to make TikToks. As people spent the early part of the pandemic staring at their phones instead of flocking to concerts, the short-form-video social-media platform upended music discovery. In many cases, it gave unknown musicians a pathway to enormous audiences and allowed them to burst into the mainstream on the backs of their TikTok hits. It’s a story as old as the music industry itself: No-name musician gets big overnight and lands a record deal. But until recently, it’s been hard to say just how big and how overnight, so Estelle Caswell from Vox and Matt Daniels from The Pudding spent seven months manually compiling and interrogating the data of who went viral, who got signed, and whose careers dropped off. Their resulting short documentary, We Tracked What Happens After TikTok Songs Go Viral, is a definitive dive into the 2020 class of viral TikTok stars. Although the platform is clearly a dominant force in new-music discovery, they found that streaming music is still overwhelmingly dominated by legacy artists. And since these established acts are now competing for the same eyeballs as their lesser-known colleagues on TikTok, it’s getting harder and harder for the latter to break out. So what happens after you go viral on TikTok? Listen to Switched On Pop to find out. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
34:05 07/06/22
The 1980s jam that gave Latto and Mariah Carey Big D*** Energy
If you've heard Latto's swaggering track "Big Energy"—and after 30 weeks on the Hot 100, you probably have—you may have heard a resemblance to Mariah Carey's 1995 hit "Fantasy." That's because both songs borrow a groove from the 1981 hit "Genius of Love," a genre-defying smash made by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. "Genius of Love" was made when Frantz and Weymouth took a break from playing in the band Talking Heads to let loose at the Island Records studio in the Bahamas with the help of some reggae luminaries. The original "Genius of Love" mashed up funk, new wave, disco, and rap, capturing the diverse sounds of 1980s downtown New York City, shouting out their musical influences in the process. From there, the song wended its way through hit after hit, from Grandmaster Flash to "Return of the Mack." Why does "Genius of Love" continue to spark musicians', and audience's, imaginations forty years after its release? Tune in to find out. Songs Discussed Latto - Big Energy Mariah Carey - Fantasy Mariah Carey ft Ol Dirty Bastard - Fantasy (Remix) Tom Tom Club - Genius of Love Grandmaster and the Furious Five - It's Nasty Busta Rhymes and Erykah Badu - One Mark Morrison - Return of the Mack Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
27:24 31/05/22
Kendrick Lamar and the big samples
It’s been five years since Kendrick Lamar released his Pulitzer winning album DAMN. Having established himself as a modern rap virtuoso whose songs have become anthems fueling social movements, expectations run high for his latest release. So when he dropped his new album Mr Morale and the Big Steppers, people tuned in - it is the biggest album drop of 2022 so far. Lamar moves his focus presumably from the societal to the personal on the double LP. His words arrive seemingly from therapy sessions meditating on family, infidelity, and the healing power of nature. The album has some bumps: platforming artists with a problematic past and an inelegant attempt at LGBTQ+ allyship. But nothing on the record is quite straight forward. Lamar doesn’t always say exactly what he means. He frequently shifts voices and puts on different characters. In musical interludes on the record, the sound of tap dancers points to the performative nature of recored music. Rather than give us direct meaning Kendrick leaves breadcrumbs for us to follow. To unravel his lyrics its necessarily to also examine the underlying production. The samples on Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers aren’t used just for their sound, in many cases they unlock the song’s meaning. Switched On Pop picked six stand out samples for close listening to hear the intent hidden in the music.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
31:01 24/05/22