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So, sure—Billy Joel’s first Top 40 hit, way back in 1974, was “Piano Man,” and the nickname stuck. But for a guy who became famous sitting behind 88 keys, few of his biggest hits are really piano songs. In fact, on all three of his No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, keyboards are not the primary instrument. The truth is, Joel isn’t the Piano Man, he’s the pastiche man. He has openly admitted to borrowing genre tropes, vocal styles, and even specific song hooks from his Baby Boom-era heroes, from Ray Charles to the Beatles to the Supremes. He’s been a jazzy crooner, a saloon balladeer, an anthem rocker, even a pseudo-punk. And on his most hit-packed album, he literally tried on a different song mode on every single—and was rewarded for it. This month, Hit Parade breaks down the uncanny success of pop magpie Billy Joel, the guy who would try anything for a hit: the next phase, new wave, dance craze, any ways. Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch and Kevin Bendis Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
After the so-called-but-not-really “death” of disco, dance music in the 1980s moved to its own beat. There was synthpop, electro, hi-NRG and house. But the scrappy genre that seemed to pull it all together was called freestyle—a breakbeat-tempo, Latin-flavored genre fortified with dizzying, proudly synthetic beats. Freestyle grew out of the clubs and streets of New York and Miami and briefly dominated ’80s dance-pop. Freestyle’s flagship artists were only medium-level stars: Shannon. Exposé. Lisa Lisa. Stevie B. Nu Shooz. Sweet Sensation. But these acts—most especially their yearning, floridly romantic, rhythmically hectic songs—punched above their weight on the charts and even affected the hits of superstars from Madonna to Duran Duran, Whitney Houston to Pet Shop Boys. Join Chris Molanphy as he defines the byways of this bespoke dance genre and traces how it bridged the disco era into the hiphop era. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Point of No Return Part 1

Point of No Return Part 1

2022-07-1601:04:512

After the so-called-but-not-really “death” of disco, dance music in the 1980s moved to its own beat. There was synthpop, electro, hi-NRG and house. But the scrappy genre that seemed to pull it all together was called freestyle—a breakbeat-tempo, Latin-flavored genre fortified with dizzying, proudly synthetic beats. Freestyle grew out of the clubs and streets of New York and Miami and briefly dominated ’80s dance-pop. Freestyle’s flagship artists were only medium-level stars: Shannon. Exposé. Lisa Lisa. Stevie B. Nu Shooz. Sweet Sensation. But these acts—most especially their yearning, floridly romantic, rhythmically hectic songs—punched above their weight on the charts and even affected the hits of superstars from Madonna to Duran Duran, Whitney Houston to Pet Shop Boys. Join Chris Molanphy as he defines the byways of this bespoke dance genre and traces how it bridged the disco era into the hiphop era. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
For decades, British alt-pop goddess Kate Bush had never had a Top 10 hit in America. Now, in 2022, she finds herself in the Hot 100’s Top Five—and television got her there. Her classic “Running Up That Hill” is featured prominently in the latest season of Netflix’s hit ’80s horror fantasy show Stranger Things. This puts Bush in a long lineage of hits spawned or made bigger by TV, dating all the way back to Davy Crockett and Peter Gunn, through Hawaii Five-O and Happy Days, and peaking in the ’80s with Miami Vice and Family Ties. Join host Chris Molanphy as he walks through more than six decades of hits from the so-called boob tube and reveals why—thanks to our streaming age—Kate Bush’s hit might be the biggest TV tune of all. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
For decades, British alt-pop goddess Kate Bush had never had a Top 10 hit in America. Now, in 2022, she finds herself in the Hot 100’s Top Five—and television got her there. Her classic “Running Up That Hill” is featured prominently in the latest season of Netflix’s hit ’80s horror fantasy show Stranger Things. This puts Bush in a long lineage of hits spawned or made bigger by TV, dating all the way back to Davy Crockett and Peter Gunn, through Hawaii Five-O and Happy Days, and peaking in the ’80s with Miami Vice and Family Ties. Join host Chris Molanphy as he walks through more than six decades of hits from the so-called boob tube and reveals why—thanks to our streaming age—Kate Bush’s hit might be the biggest TV tune of all. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
What was in the water in Virginia Beach? Starting in the ’90s and peaking in the ’00s, Pharrell Williams, Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley and Missy Elliott—friends and family from the Tidewater Region—made nerdy pop normal on the charts. Their productions whirred, gurgled, pinged and rumbled—the handiwork of studio geeks—while their lyrics embraced the freaky: Missy demanding that you work it…Pharrell declaring he’s a hustler, baby…Timbaland bringing sexy back. Join host Chris Molanphy as he explains how these three supa-dupa fly Virginia Beach geniuses helped us get our freak on. For over two decades, they never left you without a dope beat to step to. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
What was in the water in Virginia Beach? Starting in the ’90s and peaking in the ’00s, Pharrell Williams, Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley and Missy Elliott—friends and family from the Tidewater Region—made nerdy pop normal on the charts. Their productions whirred, gurgled, pinged and rumbled—the handiwork of studio geeks—while their lyrics embraced the freaky: Missy demanding that you work it…Pharrell declaring he’s a hustler, baby…Timbaland bringing sexy back. Join host Chris Molanphy as he explains how these three supa-dupa fly Virginia Beach geniuses helped us get our freak on. For over two decades, they never left you without a dope beat to step to. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In the 1970s, a song about protesting truckers topped the music charts in multiple countries, and kicked off a pop culture craze for CB radios. In early 2022, that same song became an anthem for a new trucker-led protest movement in Canada and the US. How did C.W. McCall’s “Convoy” come to exist, and what had it been trying to say?  For this episode, which was inspired by a listener’s question, we’ve updated a story that originally aired in 2017, but that could not be more relevant today. Slate producer Evan Chung is going to take us through the history of this bizarre number-one smash, an artifact from a time when truckers were also at the center of the culture. It touches on advertising, hamburger buns, and speed limits but also global conflict, sky-rocketing gas prices, and aggrieved, protesting truck drivers.  Some of the voices you’ll hear in this episode include Bill Fries, advertising executive; Chip Davis, singer and songwriter; and Meg Jacobs, historian and author of Panic at the Pump. This episode of Decoder Ring was written and produced by Evan Chung and Willa Paskin with help from Elizabeth Nakano. Derek John is Sr. Supervising Producer of Narrative Podcasts. Merritt Jacob is our Technical Director. If you have any cultural mysteries you want us to decode, email us at DecoderRing@slate.com. If you love the show and want to support us, consider joining Slate Plus. With Slate Plus you get ad-free podcasts, bonus episodes, and total access to all of Slate’s journalism. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
I Got Five on It Part 2

I Got Five on It Part 2

2022-04-2956:083

Five years ago this month, Hit Parade launched on the Slate podcast network. What have we learned in that half-decade? And what episodes did you love the most? We asked you to vote—and the results may surprise you. Sure, you enjoyed our shows about Madonna, Nirvana, Whitney, Mariah, Bruce, Stevie and Janet. But even more than that, you loved our nerdy deep dives about the producers behind “Le Freak”…the rules for One-Hit Wonders…the college-rockers from Athens, Ga.…the man behind Meat Loaf…the smooth players behind Yacht Rock…and that explainer about why you had to pay top dollar for CDs in the ’90s with only one good song. Join host Chris Molanphy as he shares his founding principles for Hit Parade, and counts down your 20 favorite shows. Happy fifth birthday to us! We’re finally old enough for kindergarten. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
I Got Five on It Part 1

I Got Five on It Part 1

2022-04-1653:272

Five years ago this month, Hit Parade launched on the Slate podcast network. What have we learned in that half-decade? And what episodes did you love the most? We asked you to vote—and the results may surprise you. Sure, you enjoyed our shows about Madonna, Nirvana, Whitney, Mariah, Bruce, Stevie and Janet. But even more than that, you loved our nerdy deep dives about the producers behind “Le Freak”…the rules for One-Hit Wonders…the college-rockers from Athens, Ga.…the man behind Meat Loaf…the smooth players behind Yacht Rock…and that explainer about why you had to pay top dollar for CDs in the ’90s with only one good song. Join host Chris Molanphy as he shares his founding principles for Hit Parade, and counts down your 20 favorite shows. Happy fifth birthday to us! We’re finally old enough for kindergarten. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Killing Me Softly Part 2

Killing Me Softly Part 2

2022-04-0101:01:271

The early ’70s was a great time for R&B queens on the charts: Roberta Flack. Dionne Warwick. Patti LaBelle. Chaka Khan. They had come through the ’60s—Dionne as a smooth pop-and-B star, Patti as a girl-group frontwoman, Roberta as a cabaret pianist—and found themselves in a new decade with limitless possibilities. Flack turned folk songs into chart-topping, Grammy-winning R&B. Warwick shifted from Brill Building pop to Philly soul. LaBelle threw her insane voice at rock, funk and glam. And a relative newcomer, Rufus frontwoman Chaka Khan, followed in their footsteps, commanding the band and converting to disco, then electro. By the ’80s, all four women were ready for a major chart victory lap. Join host Chris Molanphy as he traces four parallel careers that expanded the definition of soul from the ’60s through the ’80s and beyond. These soul sisters, flow sisters, bold sisters…killed us softly, walked on by and were, finally, every woman. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Host Chris Molanphy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Killing Me Softly Part 1

Killing Me Softly Part 1

2022-03-2601:18:502

The early ’70s was a great time for R&B queens on the charts: Roberta Flack. Dionne Warwick. Patti LaBelle. Chaka Khan. They had come through the ’60s—Dionne as a smooth pop-and-B star, Patti as a girl-group frontwoman, Roberta as a cabaret pianist—and found themselves in a new decade with limitless possibilities. Flack turned folk songs into chart-topping, Grammy-winning R&B. Warwick shifted from Brill Building pop to Philly soul. LaBelle threw her insane voice at rock, funk, and glam. And a relative newcomer, Rufus frontwoman Chaka Khan, followed in their footsteps, commanding the band and converting to disco, then electro. By the ’80s, all four women were ready for a major chart victory lap. Join host Chris Molanphy as he traces four parallel careers that expanded the definition of soul from the ’60s through the ’80s and beyond. These soul sisters, flow sisters, bold sisters…killed us softly, walked on by and were, finally, every woman. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Today on Hit Parade, we continue tracing the history of the remix. From Jennifer Lopez to Billie Eilish to Lil Nas X, the remix has become a ubiquitous part of contemporary pop chart battles. In part 2 we continue to story of how the remix became the defacto mode of reviving flagging singles, resulting in some of the most dominant pop songs of all time. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.    Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
We Invented the Remix Part 1

We Invented the Remix Part 1

2022-02-1901:10:181

Today on Hit Parade, we trace the multifarious history of the remix: a musical term with a universe of meanings. Rethinks. Reboots. Reinventions. Re-recordings. Even instances where the so-called remix came before the supposed original. (How is that even possible?) In a way, the most pivotal “remix” in chart history was the one so transformative, it compelled a change in our understanding of what a remix even is. In part 1, we explore the experimental origins of the remix and its slow but steady infiltration of the pop charts. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.    Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Rock ’n Soul, Part 2

Rock ’n Soul, Part 2

2022-01-2801:00:361

In part two of our deep dive into Daryl Hall & John Oates' genre-defying streak on the pop charts, Chris Molanphy argues they were also more cutting-edge than you may realize, essentially inventing their own form of cross-racial new wave after spending the ’70s trying everything: rock, R&B, folk, funk, even disco. At their Imperial peak in the early ’80s, Hall and Oates commanded the pop, soul and dance charts while still getting played on rock stations. And decades later, when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ignored them, it was Black artists—rappers and soul fans—who pushed them in. Join Chris Molanphy for a dissection of the Philly duo who invented “rock ’n soul” and made their dreams come true. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.    Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Rock ’n Soul, Part 1

Rock ’n Soul, Part 1

2022-01-1558:482

Daryl Hall and John Oates: Their songs were earworms, their videos cheap and goofy. John Oates’s mustache and Daryl Hall’s mullet are relics of their time. And…for about five years, their crazy streak on the pop charts was comparable to Elvis, the Beatles and the Bee Gees. They were also more cutting-edge than you may realize, essentially inventing their own form of cross-racial new wave after spending the ’70s trying everything: rock, R&B, folk, funk, even disco. At their Imperial peak in the early ’80s, Hall and Oates commanded the pop, soul and dance charts while still getting played on rock stations. And decades later, when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ignored them, it was Black artists—rappers and soul fans—who pushed them in. Join Chris Molanphy for a dissection of the Philly duo who invented “rock ’n soul” and made their dreams come true. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.    Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
One Year: Hey Macarena!

One Year: Hey Macarena!

2022-01-1158:231

Hey Hit Parade fans! Here's an episode from another show we think you’ll like.  Slate's history podcast One Year introduces you to people and ideas that changed American history, one year at a time. The new season of One Year covers 1995, a year when homegrown terrorists attacked Oklahoma City and America went online. This episode is about “Macarena”—yes, that “Macarena,” the song and the dance that became the defining left-field pop happening of the mid-’90s. This bilingual song by a pair of Spaniards, and a couple of Miami DJs they’d never met, brought joy to millions, and it topped the charts for months, winding up Billboard’s No. 1 hit of 1996—over smashes by Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men and Celine Dion. And then, just as quickly, “Macarena” became a cultural pariah. If you like this episode, follow One Year wherever you get podcasts. One Year is produced by Josh Levin, Evan Chung, and Madeline Ducharme. Additional production help from Cheyna Roth. Mixing by Merritt Jacob. Slate Plus members get to hear more about the making of One Year. Get access to extra episodes, listen to the show without any ads, and support One Year by signing up for Slate Plus for just $1 right now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In part 2 of this holiday episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy dives deep into radio, streaming and Billboard chart data of some your favorite holiday hitmakers to compare their long legacies to the majority-merry ways they are consumed today. And none has been more condensed by Christmas than another artist who was once famous enough to go by her first name: Brenda. A ’60s chart dominator and double–Hall of Famer, Brenda Lee is now mostly known for that tune about Christmas tree rockin’. How did the legendary “Little Miss Dynamite” become Santa’s little helper? And will she ever pass Mariah and go back to No. 1? Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Chestnut Roasters, Part 1

Chestnut Roasters, Part 1

2021-12-1801:03:591

Bing. Nat. Dean. John and Paul. Darlene. Mariah. Ariana. Musicians so famous, with so many classic hits, you don’t even need their last names. Now here are a few more, with fewer hits: Vince Guaraldi. José Feliciano. Donny Hathaway. The Waitresses. What do all of these acts have in common? Years from now, each of them may be known primarily for a single holiday chestnut. In fact, in the streaming era, some of them already are consumed largely in December. In this holiday episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy dives deep into radio, streaming and Billboard chart data to compare these acts’ long hitmaking histories to the majority-merry ways they are consumed today. And none has been more condensed by Christmas than another artist who was once famous enough to go by her first name: Brenda. A ’60s chart dominator and double–Hall of Famer, Brenda Lee is now mostly known for that tune about Christmas tree rockin’. How did the legendary “Little Miss Dynamite” become Santa’s little helper? And will she ever pass Mariah and go back to No. 1? Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In Part 2 of this episode, Chris Molanphy continues his analysis of how Cyndi Lauper, Aimee Mann, and The Bangles, three contemporary female acts with rock foundations and pop sensibilities, progressed out of their distinctive rock scenes and into the spotlight. They found critical and commercial acclaim and remain influential decades later, in a variety of media, from Hollywood to Broadway. What forces were they up against, and how did they fight to define themselves?  Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Comments (26)

Al Bealing

Too many ads. Bye.

Feb 1st
Reply

Lucas Nasution

great podcasts!!

Sep 15th
Reply (1)

Rita J. Behm-Campos

I absolutely love ABBA. Just wished you would have done a whole segment on them.

May 12th
Reply

Danny Gette

Pandemic relief

Apr 4th
Reply

Fereshte Barzegar

thank u,that was amazing

Apr 1st
Reply

Mary Mildred

Excellent! Loved this!

Mar 11th
Reply

Adriana Lombardi

I kind of hoped they would also talk about former Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips, who had his own string of successful progressive folk albums in the 70s as a solo artist.

Feb 7th
Reply

drora gibson

great episode , a must for you Brits admirers, good on you Chris! thanks

Dec 21st
Reply

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
Reply

Jane Evangeline Antonia Feast

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

Aug 17th
Reply

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
Reply

Tiffany Thornton

this episode is fantastic

Jun 25th
Reply

Sarah Cosgrove

Can u do a Queen trivia or the beatles trivia

Jun 23rd
Reply

Aaron Campbell

my wife and I look forward to every episode!

Dec 31st
Reply

Athena&TheOwl

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

Dec 23rd
Reply

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
Reply

One More Tune DJs

Absolutely fascinating. Every episode of this podcast is fantastic

Aug 16th
Reply

Tony Kearney

Love and Reccomend this 'Donna Summer' episode..

Jul 12th
Reply

Sara Elizabeth

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

Jul 2nd
Reply

Christopher Schooley

Metallica is from the Bay Area!

Apr 28th
Reply (1)
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