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Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia
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Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia

Author: Slate Podcasts

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What makes a song a smash? Talent? Luck? Timing? All that—and more.

Chris Molanphy, pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts and shaped your memories forever.
51 Episodes
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In this mid-month mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by The Bridge producer Asha Saluja to discuss the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade, an exhaustive analysis of the top-charting singles of the 2010s. Chris tells Asha why Beyoncé, indisputably one of the decade’s most influential artists, didn’t make it into the episode. Then Chris and Asha talk about a few of their favorite singles of the decade--some made it onto the Billboard Hot 100, and others didn’t. Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will be a look at Christmas music’s record on the Hot 100--including a record that just might be broken this year if a beloved holiday tune by a certain chart-running pop diva hits No. 1. And finally, Chris corrects the record on some mistakes he’s made in Hit Parade this year. Anyone remember “meekrat”? While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus members. If you are a member—or once you become a member—enter as a contestant here.Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.Podcast production by Asha Saluja.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
All decades of pop music swing between trends and fads—but the 2010s was swingier than most. From the maximalist EDM of the early ’10s to the downbeat hip-hop of the late ’10s, the pop pendulum oscillated more widely than you may remember. The same decade that gave us Adele’s stately balladry, Katy Perry’s electro-froth and Taylor Swift’s country-to-pop crossover also gave us the Weeknd’s bleary indie-R&B and Drake’s moody rap. And Bieber—so. Much. Bieber.With just weeks to go before the end of 2019, Hit Parade walks through the last decade of the Hot 100, year by year, and asks: What was that? Arguably, what drove pop in the ’10s wasn’t just the production sounds of dance music or hip-hop but the technologies we used to consume music, as the shift from downloads to streams changed the contours of chart success. And in the end, one multigenre queen navigated these shifts better than most, finding pop love in a hopeless place.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this mid-month mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Ned Raggett, freelance music writer for All Music Guide and The Quietus and expert on the ’80s U.K. bands celebrated on the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade. Chris and Ned discuss what they call the “holy quartet” of British postpunk bands—The Cure, The Smiths, Depeche Mode and New Order—and Ned weighs in on the challenge of what to call this wave: Is it goth? mope-rock? Do these bands actually constitute a genre, or more of a generational cohort? Also, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a trivia question of his own. And finally, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will be a retrospective look at the 2010s. While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus members. If you are a member—or once you become a member—enter as a contestant here.Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.Podcast production by Asha Saluja.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Lost and Lonely Edition

Lost and Lonely Edition

2019-10-3101:25:307

If you were an angsty American teenager in the 1980s—whether in real life, or in a John Hughes movie—the rock you loved probably came from the United Kingdom, complete with droning vocals, brooding lyrics, goth hair, and black nail polish. The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Joy Division/New Order, the Smiths: All these U.K. postpunk acts were hard-pressed to score American hits in the first half of the ’80s—the era of fun-loving New Romantic bands like Duran Duran. But to Gen X teens, Robert Smith, Siouxsie Sioux, and Morrissey were icons.By the end of the decade, however, these bands became American hitmakers, especially after Billboard launched the music bible’s first alternative rock chart. Depeche Mode sold out a California stadium. New Order dominated dancefloors. The Smiths’ Johnny Marr became a guitar god, Morrissey an MTV crush object. And finally, in 1989, the Cure—dark, doomy, and moody as ever—were challenging Janet Jackson for the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Just in time for Halloween, Hit Parade tells the story of how spooky, spidery, U.K. mope-rock became chart-conquering pop.Podcast production by Justin D. Wright.Hosted by Chris MolanphyFollow @cmolanphy on Twitter / https://www.twitter.com/cmolanphy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Aisha Harris, culture editor for The New York Times’ Opinion section. Aisha and Chris discuss the Janet Jackson album Rhythm Nation 1814, the topic of the  most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade. Aisha tells Chris about her early Jackson fandom, picks her all-time favorite Janet songs, and offers her opinion on the relevancy and influence of Janet’s sound today. Plus, Chris gives an inside scoop on the song template that Jackson’s longtime producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, used to generate multiple chart-topping hits. Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to stump Chris with a trivia question of his own. While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus members. If you are a member—or once you become a member—enter as a contestant here. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com. Podcast production by Asha Saluja.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
State of the World Edition

State of the World Edition

2019-09-2701:15:293

In the mid-1980s, Janet Jackson broke away from her world-famous, hit-making family and, with her Control album, rebooted both her career and pop style in the New Jack Swing era. The challenge was following it up—and Jackson and her producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, didn’t make it easy on themselves.In 1989, they produced an ambitious album with a portentous title: Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. But what could have been Control, Part 2 instead was a visionary LP that reinvented the socially conscious album from the era of Marvin Gaye for the ’90s, and envisioned what pop would eventually sound like in the 21st century. Rhythm Nation was a smash, generating more hits—and bigger hits—than any album in history. In fact, if Jackson and her label hadn’t pulled their punches with one final radio single, she could have set an all-time Billboard chart record that would have overshadowed any of the Jackson family’s historic achievements.Podcast production by Chris Berube.HostChris MolanphyFollow @cmolanphy on Twitter / https://www.twitter.com/cmolanphy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Asha Saluja, operations manager for Slate Podcasts and new producer of these monthly mini-episodes. Asha tells Chris about an episode of Hit Parade about a certain pop queen–turned–EDM goddess that bridged two seemingly unrelated parts of her personal music history. Chris gives Asha the scoop on the anecdote from the last full-length Hit Parade episode about the TV appearance responsible for keeping Joni Mitchell away from Woodstock. Asha shares a letter from a listener with some firsthand perspective on the music of the late 1960’s. Plus, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a trivia question of his own.While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus members. If you are a member—or once you become a member—enter as a contestant here.Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.Podcast production by Asha Saluja with help from Danielle Hewitt.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Are you tired of hearing how awe-inspiring the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was 50 years ago for 400,000 lucky hippies in Bethel, New York? Imagine how the people of 1969 felt—specifically the millions who couldn’t go. Yet, in the age before YouTube and social media, the rest of America did catch Woodstock fever—weeks, months, even a year or more later—and they made stars out of many of the performers. By 1970, not only was the Woodstock movie dominating the box office; the soundtrack album and a constellation of Woodstock stars were crushing the Billboard charts.This month’s Hit Parade offers a new take on Woodstock: To understand its legacy, you have to look at the charts long after August 1969. Chris Molanphy counts down 10 acts—some of them music legends, some of them short-lived hitmakers—who were materially boosted by the festival: from a guy hanging out backstage who got shoved onstage by desperate show organizers; to the band who loathed the whole experience yet saw their albums reach new chart heights; to the young man who arrived with no discography but kicked off one of the longest hitmaking careers in rock history. Podcast production by Chau Tu.Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Tom Breihan, senior editor at Stereogum and writer of their long-term blog project “The Number Ones,” a chronological review of every song that’s hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Tom gives Chris his reviews of the three Lennon-McCartney hits Chris discussed in the last full-length Hit Parade episode. Plus, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a trivia question of her own. While this episode is available to all listeners, only Slate Plus members are allowed to be on the show. Once you become a member, you can enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com. Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Without The Beatles

Without The Beatles

2019-07-2601:11:056

This month, Hit Parade explores the legacy of songs by The Beatles topping the charts...without The Beatles. This is the story of how a discarded Beatles song, a superstar vanity cover, and a bizarre disco medley managed to top the charts with Beatles songwriting credits, but without the fab four. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
How much do you know about the women rockers who dominated the '90s? Find out in the latest episode of Hit Parade: The Bridge.In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, Host Chris Molanphy is joined by T. J. Raphael, senior producer of the Slate Podcast Network. Together, they quiz one listener contestant with some music trivia. The player also has the opportunity to turn the tables: They get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one of their own trivia questions. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.  Podcast production by T. J. RaphaelLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Musical theater is one of America’s greatest cultural products—and in the mid–20th century, it also dominated the Billboard charts, from My Fair Lady to West Side Story. But the rise of rock and roll in the ’60s sidelined showtunes on the radio. And even when Broadway tried to rock—from Hair to Jesus Christ Superstar—a new generation grew wary of characters breaking into song (unless they were animated mermaids, teapots or lions). And yet, in the 21st century, Broadway music has staged a cultural comeback: taking over our movie screens, making shows out of jukebox hits, and raising a new generation to believe they can rap like Hamilton and Lafayette. In this Tonys month, Hit Parade dances down the Great White Way to chronicle the tangled history of the Broadway musical on the pop charts.  Email: hitparade@slate.com  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Think you know music? Hit Parade, the music history podcast from Slate, is back with a new episode of The Bridge.In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, Host Chris Molanphy is joined by T. J. Raphael, senior producer of the Slate Podcast Network. Together, they quiz one listener contestant with some music trivia. The player also has the opportunity to turn the tables: They get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one of their own trivia questions. Chris is also joined by Elizabeth Craft, an assistant professor of musicology at the University of Utah. Her research focuses on musical theater from the early 20th century to the present; she’s published on the musicals of Lin-Manuel Miranda, including a recent article on the politics and political reception of Hamilton, and she’s currently working on a book on Broadway legend George M. Cohan.If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
When a band member leaves to go solo, usually it means the band’s best days are over. That’s what everybody thought when Peter Gabriel left Genesis in the ’70s. Except not only did the band survive—fronted by drummer-turned-singer Phil Collins, they got bigger. Then Collins went solo…except he didn’t ditch Genesis. In fact, his success made them bigger—one of the definitive pop bands of the 1980s, as Collins’s monstrous drum sound took over pop music. By mid-decade, current and former members of Genesis—even side projects from its guitarists—were all competing head-to-head on the Billboard charts. On Hit Parade, we explore the knotty family tree of Genesis, the unlikeliest group ever to become a Hot 100 juggernaut.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Think you know music? Hit Parade, the music history podcast from Slate, is back with a new episode of The Bridge.In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, Host Chris Molanphy is joined by Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding of the podcast Switched on Pop. Together, they quiz one listener contestant with some music trivia. The player also has the opportunity to turn the tables: They get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one of their own trivia questions. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Spin̈al Tap was right: Death sells. When musical icons die, their songs and albums climb the charts all over again—sometimes, a legendary artist even scores his or her only No. 1 hit. In this very special episode recorded live from the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Hit Parade pours one out for the legends who topped the charts from beyond the grave. Chris is joined by some of America’s top music writers to discuss the unusual circumstances that brought everyone from Otis Redding to Janis Joplin, John Lennon to Kurt Cobain, Biggie Smalls to Prince to the top of the charts after their untimely passings. Email: hitparade@slate.com   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Join Chris Molanphy for an evening of stories and trivia, at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle Washington, Saturday, April 13th, 2019. Tickets are going fast at Slate.com/LIVELearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
When you think of Stevie Wonder’s legendary career, what chart-toppers come to mind? “Superstition,” right? Maybe “I Wish”? Okay, but what about the start of his career, on the Motown of the ’60s? You may not know that Wonder had only one Hot 100 No. 1 in his first decade—as “Little” Stevie Wonder—and it was truly exceptional, as in bizarre: a semi-improvised live recording of a “12 Year-Old Genius” refusing to leave a Chicago stage and say goodnight. Here’s the story of “Fingertips, Part 2,” and the years that launched a true pop icon. Wonder’s imperial run of classic, chart-topping, Grammy-dominating ’70s albums had their seeds in the joyous virtuosity, and fierce independence, on display in his very first hit.Email: hitparade@slate.com  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Host Chris Molanphy reflects on the previous full length episode of the show, and invites one Slate Plus member to play some music trivia related to an upcoming episode. This month, Molanphy is joined at the mic by T. J. Raphael, senior producer of the Slate Podcast Network. Together, they discuss some of the best cover songs of all time from the likes of Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, and more. After a break, Molanphy is joined by one listener for some music trivia related to the next full-length episode of Hit Parade, which is all about Stevie Wonder. How does it all work? The contestant is asked three trivia questions, and the player also has the opportunity to turn the tables—they get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one trivia question of their own.If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member.Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.  Podcast production by T. J. Raphael Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In just a couple of years, Creedence Clearwater Revival generated one of the most amazing runs of hits inAmerican pop history: from “Proud Mary” to “Green River,” “Bad Moon Rising” to “Travelin’ Band.”Reportedly, they even outsold the Beatles in America in 1969. But for all their success with those JohnFogerty–penned classics, CCR never held the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100. All of those hits were No. 2s: adubious Billboard chart record they hold to this day, for most No. 2s without a No. 1. True, it was the late ’60s,and CCR had the bad luck to be competing with such chart titans as Paul Simon and Sly Stone…butsometimes they were held back by No. 1 songs that are barely remembered today. In this episode of HitParade, we break down the sequence of events that relegated CCR—a future first-ballot Rock and Roll Hall ofFame band—to the charts’ permanent runner-up slot.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Comments (17)

Aaron Hartje

I've noticed a bit of verbal sleight of hand in other episodes, but to basically claim that the reason disco - an obvious music fad - died was because of a backlash against homosexuals, people of color and women is going a bit too far. It also kind of implies that women, homosexuals and people of color do not attend baseball games and did not participate in the occurrences that evening. I was around when this happened. As with other music fads, disco eventually became nothing but a parody and caricature of itself and it deserved the death it received. The good stuff survives, as is always the case.

Nov 8th
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Jane Evangeline Antonia Feast

In the supermarket and guess what's on the radio?

Aug 17th
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FRANCIS READER

That was a very interesting tale, the Stars On 45 part especially. One thing: Sparks are American, not British. Great podcast - please keep them coming.

Jul 26th
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Tiffany Thornton

this episode is fantastic

Jun 25th
Reply

Sarah Cosgrove

Can u do a Queen trivia or the beatles trivia

Jun 23rd
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Aaron Campbell

my wife and I look forward to every episode!

Dec 31st
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Athena&TheOwl

and for all the predictions we voted for a no1 about Sausage Rolls!

Dec 23rd
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Jeff Z

title = alt rock... spends a full third of the podcast talking about Mikey Cyrus. And then starts talking about hair metal. WTF?!?!?!?!

Nov 30th
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One More Tune DJs

Absolutely fascinating. Every episode of this podcast is fantastic

Aug 16th
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Tony Kearney

Love and Reccomend this 'Donna Summer' episode..

Jul 12th
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Sara Elizabeth

Two part series suck when you have to wait a month for part 2. :(

Jul 2nd
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Christopher Schooley

Metallica is from the Bay Area!

Apr 28th
Reply (1)

Kathryn Whitbourne

love these episodes and the music

Jan 10th
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Andy S.

Great stories and well researched!

Dec 8th
Reply

Srinath Sharma

Very interesting information and very well presented. Highly recommend

Dec 5th
Reply

Dawn Skaggs

thats nice

Oct 31st
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