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Switched on Pop

Vox Media

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.

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.

Location:

United States

Networks:

Vox Media

Description:

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.

Language:

English


Episodes

Accidental K-pop star Eric Nam risks it all to go his own way

1/19/2022
Eric Nam is an accidental K-pop star. Growing up in Atlanta, and graduating from college in Boston, he did not expect that in his twenties he’s sign to a K-pop label, be named 2016 Man of the year by GQ Korea, and become a go-to television personality in South Korea. His music, imbued with his charisma and charm has charted globally. As fun as it is, the K-pop machine can be a real grind — it churns through young people not unlike the NFL draft. Nam is unusually candid about this experience,...

Duration:00:37:04

The Weeknd drives through purgatory (with a little help from Jim Carrey)

1/11/2022
Dawn FM is The Weeknd’s most narratively compelling album yet. More than just a collection of eighties-nostalgia single bait, Dawn FM is a concept album that picks up on a multi-year meta narrative. Abel Tesfaye, seemingly killed off his character at the end of his last album, After Hours. Getting caught up in the “Blinding Lights” of fame and excess, the narrator ends up overdosing in the back of an ambulance. On the final song “Until I Bleed Out” he sings “I can’t move, I’m so paralyzed.”...

Duration:00:38:28

Why do new Christmas songs fail?

12/21/2021
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,...

Duration:00:26:32

Tai Verdes TikTok-ed his way to a breakout hit

12/14/2021
Whether you’re a TikTok fanatic, or the app’s K-hole-inducing stream of content has forced you to delete it from your phone, its influence on music is undeniable. In 2020 the platform bragged that over 70 artists on the platform signed with major labels. TikTok’s success was linked to pandemic-related stay-at-home orders -- people were stuck at home and musicians couldn’t tour. And while trending dances and songs on TikTok may turn over weekly, with a billion monthly users, the social media...

Duration:00:31:26

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raise The Roof

12/7/2021
Robert Plant is in his own words “cold” and “prickly” while speaking about his new album with Alison Krauss, Raise The Roof. First thing upon joining the Zoom call from London, Plant jovially launches into the much misattributed quote “talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” But he is neither callous, nor coy. For Plant the music is ineffable, a joyous celebration of friendship, and a kindred love of song that he shares with Krauss and producer T-Bone Burnett. Their album...

Duration:00:31:35

The Beatles get back to their roots

11/30/2021
2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ final album, Let it Be. To commemorate the occasion, the remaining members of the band have remixed the album and unleashed an eight-hour-plus documentary directed by Peter Jackson that lays bare the making of the record. For super-fans this video memoir reveals a lot about the messiness of the creative process: The Beatles nearly broke up while making it! Author Tim Riley says that the band approached Let It Be with an aesthetic...

Duration:00:40:45

Taylor, Adele & Silk Sonic’s broken hearts club (with Brittany Luse)

11/23/2021
This week we are having a blast feeling really sad. Guest Brittany Luse, cohost of the acclaimed podcast For Colored Nerds, joins Nate and Charlie to dig into this fall's slate of breathtaking breakup albums from Adele, Kacey Musgraves, Summer Walker, and Mitski. Some have been calling this confluence of releases, "sad girl autumn," but the melancholy moment goes beyond gender, with even Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak's leaning into the lachrymose on their album An Evening With Silk Sonic. On...

Duration:00:42:36

Snotty Nose Rez Kids on hip hop and Indigenous protest

11/16/2021
Merging hip hop and Indigenous culture, rap duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids are creating a sound that goes hard for a cause. On tracks like “War Club” with DJ Shub, Yung Trybez and Young D connect Indigenous protests to the Black Lives Matter movement, and on “Boujee Natives,” Snotty Nose Rez Kids celebrate traditional culture through a modern lens. But as much as this music has a message, it also bangs, and SNRK’s new album After Life runs the gamut of emotions; from tackling police brutality on...

Duration:00:27:38

The State of the Pop Union

11/9/2021
From time to time, it is our constitutional duty to provide an update to the people on the current state of pop. What are the sounds? Who’s making the hits? What are they singing about? We take the musical temperature by consulting the charts, the platforms, and the people. MORE Cat Zhang’s review of PinkPantheress’ “Passion” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:36:28

Why ABBA songs just hit different

11/2/2021
Swedish supergroup ABBA is releasing their first album in forty years, making this the perfect time for Nate and Charlie to investigate what makes their music so beloved and reviled in equal measure. For every ABBA stan, there’s a hater lurking, like legendary pop critic Robert Christgau, who once said of the group: “We have met the enemy, and they are them.” That suspicion was earned through ABBA’s musical catchiness and lyrical earnestness, but regardless of how you feel about their music,...

Duration:00:35:27

The Healing Power of Pop with Esperanza Spalding

10/26/2021
It. Has. Been. A. Year. We’ve felt it; you’ve felt it. Sometimes, it’s comforting to consider how universal that overwhelming sense of blah is. Other days, woof, it can be tough to see the light. That’s the subject of today’s episode, brought to you by our producer Megan Lubin. When Megan hit an especially low point earlier this year, she noticed something in the music she was listening to: Über-popular artists making explicit references to the state of their mental health and the things...

Duration:00:35:55

Janet Jackson's Legacy After 'Control' from It's Been A Minute with Sam Sanders

10/22/2021
Sam Sanders is one of our favorite friends of the podcast. His NPR show, It's Been A Minute, has released an outstanding three part series exploring crossover in pop music. We want to share with you the 2nd episode form that series on the legacy of Janet Jackson. From It's Been A Minute On the 35th anniversary of Janet Jackson's first No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit, we look back at Control, her career-defining album that changed the trajectory of pop music in the late '80s and '90s. In the...

Duration:00:46:07

James Bond's Spycraft Sound

10/19/2021
The latest installment of the James Bond franchise, No Time To Die, closes the book on the Daniel Craig era of the international superspy. The film’s theme song, “No Time to Die,” by Billie Eilish, Finneas, and Hans Zimmer, also marks the conclusion of one of the great musical sagas in recent cinema. Monty Norman’s and John Barry’s now-iconic “James Bond Theme,” written for 1962’s Dr. No, has remained a constant across six decades of espionage and one-liners. But every new Bond theme has...

Duration:00:35:32

James Blake & The Return of Harmony

10/12/2021
For a decade James Blake has crafted an idiosyncratic sound. His early work as a minimalist electronic producer fused lush R&B chords with lyrical collage and unfiltered synthesizers. He describes his hit 2013 song “Retrograde” as apocalyptic yet also romantic. This single was in stark contrast to the bubblegum pop of the early 2010s. But other artists recruited him to spread his subversive sonics. He produced on three of the most seminal albums in recent history: Beyoncé’s Lemonade,...

Duration:00:36:50

Sparkle spoke out against R Kelly. It cost her her career.

10/7/2021
On this week’s episode we're sharing a story fromThe Cut where senior writer Angelina Chapin and co-host Jazmín Aguilera talk about and talk with Sparkle (born Stephanie Edwards), who first reported R. Kelly to the police for allegedly sexually abusing her 14-year-old niece. Back then, no one believed her, but following the explosive documentary Surviving R. Kelly and the R&B artist’s trial, at the end of which he was found guilty of nine federal sex crimes, she’s been vindicated. Angelina...

Duration:00:30:03

ICYMI: The Mystery of Montero AKA Lil Nas X (feat. Take A Daytrip)

9/28/2021
Lil Nas X has a talent for creating productive controversy. First with “Old Town Road,” he challenged expectations about blackness in country music. Now with “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” he takes aim at anti LGBTQ+ messages propagated by the religious dogma from his youth (he came out as gay during Pride 2019). The song describes a romantic encounter without innuendo. Sure it’s raunchy, but the song doesn’t especially stand out on Billboard where explicit sexual fantasy is commonplace....

Duration:00:36:33

Deja Vu: Why Olivia Rodrigo keeps giving up songwriting credits

9/21/2021
In the last few years music copyright claims have skyrocketed. More and more artists are giving songwriting credits away. Frequently, credits are given retroactively to avoid the cost of long jury trials like when Sam Smith credited Tom Petty. Smith’s melody for “Stay With Me” clearly drew from Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” On rare occasions these cases go to court, where music litigation is at an all time high. In the last ten years there have been 190 public cases, up over 350% from the...

Duration:01:00:02

CHVRCHES and the sound of 80s horror

9/14/2021
CHVRCHES is well-known for their comprehensive use of synthesizers and their updated take on “synthpop”, a subgenre of pop we most closely associated with the 1980s. While gearing up to make their second album in 2015, CHVRCHES members Iain Cook and Martin Doherty spent much of the recording budget buying up many of the original synthesizers used to make those iconic 80s dance tracks. Contemporary replicas of those synth sounds are now commonplace with pop acts like Dua Lipa and The Weeknd....

Duration:00:34:56

From Taylor Swift to Bon Iver, Aaron Dessner Finds Meaning in Musical Community

9/7/2021
On August 27th Big Red Machine, the joint musical project of Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner - artists known for their work as Bon Iver and in the rock band The National, respectively - returned with new music. You’ve most definitely heard Dessner’s production work elsewhere, like on Taylor Swift’s pandemic albums evermore and folklore. The Big Red Machine album, titled How Long Do You Think it's Going to Last, celebrates the fruits of creative partnership and the importance of family and...

Duration:00:27:28

Modern Classics: Carina del Valle Schorske on Cat Power's "Manhattan"

8/31/2021
Recently the hosts of Switched on Pop kept seeing the same byline next to their favorite pieces of music writing. A moving profile of Bad Bunny? There was the name. A searing critique of West Side Story? There it was again. An elegy on love, loss, and an Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson duet? By now it was committed to memory: writer and translator Carina del Valle Schorske. So we knew we had to invite Carina to participate in our Modern Classics series and learn what this brilliant...

Duration:00:30:53