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Switched on Pop

Author: Vox

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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.
116 Episodes
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Sounds Like Teen Spirit (with Elle Fanning)
Pop is inseparable from reality TV singing competitions. From Eurovision to American Idol, scores of stars got their start in singing competitions. We’ve long overlooked this influence on pop, but were inspired to look into the phenomenon by the release of Teen Spirit, a pop-musical film about a fictional singing competition . What is the history of these shows? Who got their big break on one? Is there a singing show musical aesthetic? We hit the books and records to find out, and the answers might surprise. Finally we speak with Elle Fanning, who plays contestant Violet in the film, about what it takes to train to be a singer primed for national fame. Songs DiscussedElle Fanning - Dancing On My OwnFrank Sinatra with The Hoboken Four on the Major Bowes Amateur HourGladys Knight on the Original Amateur HourAbba - WaterlooCeline Dion - Ne Partez Pas Moi Alanis Morisette on Star Search Girls Tyme with Beyoncé on Star SearchKelly Clarkson - A Moment Like ThisWhitney Houston - I Have NothingNina Simone - Feeling GoodJanis Joplin - Piece of My HeartSusan Boyle - I Dreamed A DreamElle Fanning - Don't Kill My Vibe (originally by Sigrid)Recommended listeningMavis Staples - AnytimeAnderson Paak - VenturaThe Beths - Future Me Hates MeMax, Quinn XCII - Love Me LessKhalid, John Mayer - Outta My Head* Correction: Though non-European countries do compete in Eurovision, Canada has not competed in the contest. Celine Dion represented Switzerland in her performance of "Ne Partez Pas Moi Celine" in 1988.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Billie Eilish is a Different Kind of Pop Star (ft. FINNEAS)
On a trajectory to be one of the biggest pop stars for this generation, seventeen year old Billie Eilish is not, however, your typical pop star. Her music speaks to the real anxieties of young people without any veneer. She sings from the perspective of monsters and villains. Her hushed voice, baggy style, and direct demeanor subvert the norms of the pop princess. And her music is dark, but still catchy. Billie co-writes and produces her sound with her older brother Finneas O’Connell. Together this family duo have crafted the second biggest selling album of 2019, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”  On this episode, we examine how Billie and Finneas crafted a cultural phenomenon, why their message speaks to this generation, and we speak with Finneas about the creation of their hit song “Bad Guy.”Songs Featured: Billie Eilish - Ocean EyesBillie Eilish - BoredBillie Eilish - You Should See Me In A CrownBillie Eilish - Bad GuyBillie Eilish - Bury A FriendMarilyn Manson - The Beautiful PeopleThe Doors - People Are StrangeNine Inch Nails - CloserBillie Eilish - ilomiloBillie Eilish - All Good Girls Go To HellBillie Eilish - XannyFrank Sinatra - Dream A DreamBillie Eilish - I love youJohn Carpenter - Halloween ThemeBillie Eilish - Bellyache Watch Billie Eilish and Finneas break down “Bury A Friend” on The New York TimesLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
How Streaming Changed the Sound of Pop
Streaming hasn't just changed the way we listen to music, it's changed the way that pop music sounds. After years of losses due to the death of the CD and the rise of file sharing, the music industry has finally found a profitable business in streaming services. Streaming has overtaken all other music sales. Digital music platforms are the new Virgin megastore. But these services are more than just a distribution mechanism, they have created a whole new music economy. Album sales have been replaced by "album equivalent units," a business fiction that equates 1,500 streams to one physical sale. Artists are now effectively paid by the song. With ad-supported and subscription based business models, these platforms have upended incentives so significantly that it can be heard in the songwriting. Songs are getting shorter, albums are getting longer, and there is an entirely new section of the song that draws from the classical past: the "pop overture." In this episode, Nate and Charlie are joined by Aisha Hassan and Dan Kopf to unpack the sound of pop in the streaming era.  Be sure to check out their article on Quartz: "The Reason Why Your Favorite Pop Songs Are Getting Shorter."Songs FeaturedLil Pump - I Love ItBenny Blanco - Eastside ft. Khalid & HalseyKodak Black - Calling My SpiritPost Malone - Better NowLeonard Bernstein - West Side Story OvertureDua Lipa - One KissDrake - God’s PlanPost Malone - I Fall ApartAriana Grande - NasaTommy Dorsey - All The Things You AreLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Comments (8)

Whitney Rodden

Cool concept! Another great episode, guys.

Apr 2nd
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Whitney Rodden

Post Malone journey LMAO

Mar 28th
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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
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Whitney Rodden

Amanda Please Well said. I agree completely!

Apr 3rd
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Eoin G

No NIN - Closer? For shame

Feb 28th
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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
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Julie McLaughlin

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

Aug 2nd
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Sofia Zepeda

The episode on "The Deep" was amazing!

Jun 15th
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