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Switched on Pop

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What makes pop songs so catchy? Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work their magic on our ears & our culture. You’ll fall in love with music you didn’t even know you liked.
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Jazz 1959

Jazz 1959

2019-09-2400:49:09

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 Holiday, and dig into some of the year's forgotten gems. Sixty years later, jazz is no longer the cultural juggernaut is once was — but it still has much to teach us about pop culture of the present. Playlist:•Miles Davis - So What•Dave Brubeck - Take Five•Billie Holiday - Blue Moon•Billie Holiday - Billie's Blues•Erykah Badu - On & On•Amy Winehouse - There Is No Greater Love•Muriel Roberts - Sleigh Ride•Terry Pollard - Laura•Willene Barton and her Trio - Rice Pudding Check out the 1959 and 2019 jazz cuts we're listening to here:We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: https://voxmedia.iad1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_ewVXHPZIsQNlxCR?Source=noteLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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 each of those choices has a big impact on how we hear the song.The Verge’s Dani Deahl recently sat down with reigning Princess of Pop, Charli XCX, to discuss how she approaches those decisions, and how that approach is bucking long-established norms in popular music. In this special bonus episode of Switched on Pop, Dani rings up Charlie (not XCX) to recap that conversation and put Charli (XCX)’s artistry in context. Via Dani, we learn that for Charli collaboration is more than just an artistic choice; and release strategy is much more than a major label playbook. There’s a total freedom in the way Charli releases music, and we love it. Huge thanks to Dani for bringing us this peek into her world.Songs discussed:Charli XCX - Boom ClapCharli XCX, Christine and the Queens - GoneCharli XCX ft. Lizzo - Blame It On Your LoveLizzo - Truth HurtsCatch the rest of Dani’s conversation with both Charli/es in the newest episode of The Verge’s ‘Future of Music’ video series,We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: https://voxmedia.iad1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_ewVXHPZIsQNlxCR?Source=noteLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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 The Longest Shortest Time, and Charlie explore the phenomenon that is “Baby Shark.Songs DiscussedPinkfong - Baby SharkFrank Zappa - Baby SnakesStevie Wonder - Isn’t She Lovely Suzanne Vega - Tom’s DinerBaby Shark/ Tom’s Diner mashup “Baby Diner”The Weeknd - I Can’t Feel My FaceRadioheadPinkfong - The Penguin DancePinkfong - Lions in LoveDrake - God’s PlanMicheal Jackson - Billie JeanWhitney Houston - I Wanna Dance With SomebodyBruno Mars - Uptown FunkBeastie Boys - Brass MonkeyVanilla Ice - Ice Ice BabyJosh Groban - River The Beatles - All You Need Is LoveHarry Potter theme Raffi - Baby Beluga Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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 Episode 58, ‘What’s to Love About Ed Sheeran?’, and catch more of And The Writer Is… when Season 5 premiers this Monday, September 9th — anywhere you listen to podcasts. Episodes discussed:#80 How to ‘Make Me Feel’ with Lizzo#123 What BTS’s “Boy With Love” ft. Halsey Can Teach Us About K-pop#99 Entering Beard Phase (with Mike Posner)#107 How Streaming Changed the Sound of PopSongs Discussed:Lizzo - Truth HurtsSister Nancy - Bam BamPaul Anka - Put Your Hand on My ShoulderBTS ft. Halsey - Boy with LuvAriana Grande - Break FreeLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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 laugh your face off. This is not one to miss.Find more episodes of Off Book on their website h.earwolf.com/off, or anywhere you find podcasts.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
"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 are joined by singer/rapper Lizzo. She and Monáe both collaborated with Prince, making Lizzo uniquely qualified to unwind his influence on the song. We also discuss Lizzo's song "Truth Hurts" and her podcast "Good As Hell" where she talks to the queens of hip hop. Hands down, Lizzo is one of the most talented, knowledgable and fun guests. You don't want to miss this episode.Songs DiscussedJanelle Monáe - Make Me FeelMichael Jackson - The Way You Make Me FeelMichael Jackson - Beat ItFats Domino - Blueberry HillPrince - KissYing Yang Twins - Wait (The Whisper Song)Lizzo - Truth HurtsSister Nancy - BamDon't miss Lizzo's podcast "Good As Hell" on SpotifyLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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 so weird?”Songs DiscussedRednex:Cotton Eye JoePop in an OakThe Way I MateCotton Eyed Joe:Fiddlin John CarsonBob Wills and his Texas PlayboysKaren DaltonChieftainsNina SimoneOMC:How BizarreRight OnLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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 soundtracking this year’s vacations, graduations, summer flings and backyard cookouts. In this episode, we abandon the pursuit of a single song of summer, and ask the question we’re more interested in: What does summer sound like? To answer that question, we asked you, our listeners, and got some downright awesome suggestions in return. Your voicemails covered everything from Hot Girl Summer anthems and nostalgia-inducing dance jams, to globally infused collaborations and just-released future-feeling indie rock cuts. Today, we travel across the full spectrum of summer feels, and the music that comes through when we need it the most. Songs DiscussedMUNA - Number One FanAmber Mark - Put You OnJonas Brothers - Only HumanShawn Mendes, Camila Cabello - SeñoritaCharlie XCX, Christine and the Queens - GoneBTS, Zara Larsson - Brand New DayKaty Perry - Teenage DreamPost Malone - SunflowerLil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus - Old Town RoadPinkfong - Baby Shark Khalid - BetterMegan Thee Stallion - Big ol’ FreakMegan Thee Stallion, Juicy J - Simon SaysSaweetie - My TypePetey Pablo - Freak-A-LeakCity Girls - Act UpMegan Thee Stallion, DaBaby - Cash ShitClairo - Sofia HAIM - Summer GirlLou Reed - Walk on the Wild SideMother’s Daughter - Miley CyrusRosalía - Aute CutureAriana Grande - NASABANKS - GimmeGrimes, Hana - We appreciate powerLizzo - Truth HurtsPaul McCartney - JetDon Henley - The Boys of SummerSantana, Rob Thomas - SmoothBritney Spears - ToxicThe Slits - I Heard it Through the Grapevine Missy Elliott - SlideFreddie Gibbs, Madlib - CataractsVampire Weekend - 2021Misc extrasListen to all of these songs and more on the Switched on Pop Songs of Summer 2019 Playlist. NoteIn this episode we made light of PTSD by using the term irreverently - thanks to listener feedback we're better aware of how destructive such diminishing comments can be to people dealing with trauma. We apologize for the misuse and will strive to avoid it in the future. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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 Sam Cooke. To understand how R&B has changed over time, we consult with Trevor Anderson, manager of Billboard's R&B/Hip Hop chart. Then we speak with R&B super-producer Oak Felder to understand how R&B is progressing and what it might become.Songs DiscussedChance The Rapper - Hot ShowerChance The Rapper - I Got YouSam Cooke - You Send MeElvis Presley - Crying In the ChapelThe Temptations - I Can’t Get Next To YouMtume - Juicy FruitBiggie - JuicyToni Braxton - Breath AgainJanet Jackson - That’s The Way Love GoesBoys II Men - I’ll Make Love To YouLauryn Hill - Doo Wop (That Thing)Diddy - I’ll Be Missing You (feat. Faith Evans & 112)Nelly - DilemmaKehlani - DistractionSWV - WeakAaron Hall - I Miss YouUsher - You Make Me WannaBrandy - Sittin' Up In My RoomDru Hill - In My BedSilk - Freak MeDemi Lovato - Sorry Not SorryJodeci - Cry For youMariah Carey - Vision of LoveKehlani - Everything Is YoursChance The Rapper - All Day LongQueen - Fat Bottom GirlsDiana Ross - I’m Coming OutFor an in depth history of R&B on Billboard, read Chris Molanphy's feature on Pitchfork.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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 Switched On Pop to break down this album and what it means for Afropop. Songs DiscussedBeyoncé, Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, Oumou Sangaré – MOOD 4 EVAOumou Sangaré – Diaraby NenBurna Boy – JA ARAFela Kuti – Water No Get EnemyFena, MDQ, Mayonde, Kagwe, Blinky Bill – PARTY NATIONListen to Blinky and Ivie’s East African playlist recommendationsLeave us a voicemail about your favorite songs of summer: 385-626-6179Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Comments (16)

cbeautyam

I never thought I would see you guys cover K-Pop.

Jul 11th
Reply

tbh

"bragging about her songwriting prowess" oh my god give me a break she didn't produce the song!!

Jun 28th
Reply

Seluvaia Po'Uha

great song

Jun 5th
Reply

Byron Drake

It's like Pearl Jam got famous, then you get Days of the New and Stabbing Westward ect...

Jun 4th
Reply

mattters

to wit: fuck no

Jun 2nd
Reply

Tone Ravnå Bjørnstad

buuuut- the original of Don't Kill My Vibe by Norwegian young artist Sigrid is sooo much stronger vocally 😮! (+ she wrote the song)

May 12th
Reply

Steven G

I liked your comments and explanations. Looking very much forward to the next episodes. I think I can learn a lot about how music is created and what the magic behind the songs is.

May 5th
Reply

Whitney Rodden

Cool concept! Another great episode, guys.

Apr 2nd
Reply

Whitney Rodden

Post Malone journey LMAO

Mar 28th
Reply

Amanda Please

this discussion is so well done. They analyzed great angles with a really broad perspective. I think these guys are great at communicating and listening, especially when it comes deconstructing complex controversies in music and pop culture.

Mar 21st
Reply

Hossein Ghaheri

Whitney Rodden I love you

Aug 24th
Reply

Whitney Rodden

Amanda Please Well said. I agree completely!

Apr 3rd
Reply

Eoin G

No NIN - Closer? For shame

Feb 28th
Reply

Dave Lawlis

A mere two songs from one decade does not a deep dive make. Anyway to sum it up, the music industry completely dropped the ball and failed to cash in on "alternative" music and college rock in the 1980s. Encouraged by Nirvana's popularity they basically went apeshit in the 90s, taking any act that wasn't quite mainstream and flinging them like so many turds at the wall in the hopes that some of them would stick.

Sep 20th
Reply

Julie McLaughlin

it's a clicky pen, with which she'll write your name. duhhh.

Aug 2nd
Reply

Sofia Zepeda

The episode on "The Deep" was amazing!

Jun 15th
Reply
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