Switched on Pop

Switched on Pop

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.

Episodes

February 27, 2024 44 mins
Renaissance Act II truthers, your time has come: There’s new music from Beyoncé, and boy, is it country. Her two new singles dropped two weeks ago, and in the time since, they’ve both climbed up the chart and taken the internet by storm. There’s the barnstorming stomp and holler ditty “TEXAS HOLD 'EM,” which just notched the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100, and the dark horse “16 CARRIAGES,” a autobiographical work song detailing...
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The Canadian Electro-Funk duo CHROMEO have made consistently funky, highly danceable music for twenty years. They’ve released five studios albums, done the Coachella festival circuit and have been nominated for a Grammy for their sound that’s been compared to Prince, Zapp and Hall and Oates. Now with their latest album, Adult Contemporary, they are challenging preconceptions of adult contemporary music by redefining its whole meani...
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February 13, 2024 53 mins
Who is the biggest Diva of them all? The U.S. National Anthem, which borrows its melody from a historic British drinking song, has undergone enormous musical change in the hands of pop music vocalists. Famously, José Feliciano, Marvin Gaye and Whitney Houston each changed the meaning of "The Star Spangled Banner" by finding new approaches to the performance. Countless others have followed in their footsteps. Now every major sportin...
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When it comes to powerful artistry, few can match the intensity of Brittany Howard. Over the past decade, we’ve seen her bring her signature Southern belt to the Alabama Shakes, her intimate songwriting to her first solo record, and now, her boundary-pushing genre experimentation on her new album What Now. The record, which drops on Friday, February 9th, continues to show Howard’s versatility – the record jumps from disco pop to pa...
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When it comes to musical theater, everyone has an opinion. And Bridger Winegar, host of the very funny podcast I Said No Gifts!, is no exception. In the paradoxical tradition of Bridger's podcast, Charlie and Nate have brought a series of gifts in the form of a sonic smorgasbord: a tour through musical theater's finest offerings, from Les Miserables to Spring Awakening. Check out Bridger's podcast I Said No Gifts! here. For more o...
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January 23, 2024 36 mins
Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis has cemented herself as something of a vibe curator; her signature genre fusion has brought forward everything from Latin radio mainstays to Bootsy Collins collaborations. But instead of looking to the genres of the future for her latest record, Orchídeas finds Uchis digging into genres of the past and present, creating a global soundscape across the record’s 14 tracks. On this episode of Switch...
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January 16, 2024 38 mins
We live in an age of musical nostalgia where artists wear influences on their sleaves. Case in point, two established artists who are drawing from established pop music history: Lil Nas X's "J. Christ" sounds like a Kendrick Lamar "Humble" type beat, and Ariana Grande's "Yes, And?" unabashedly interpolates Madonna's "Vogue." So are these songs mere copies or do they actually say something new with their reference material? Songs D...
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All throughout the year, Switched on Pop gets a litany of musical questions that need answering. To kick off 2024, hosts Charlie and Nate answer some of these questions live on air! From the renewed interest in Cass Elliot's "Make Your Own Kind of Music" to the lack of multi-part harmonies on the charts, this episode takes a closer look at some listeners' musical maladies – alongside special guest star Joe Treble. Songs Discussed:...
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In case you missed it, last January, we published this story on the rising trend of sped-up music. It seems like the tempo-shifting isn't going anywhere, so we're rerunning our history and exploration into the phenomenon. Original description below: Over the past few months, you may have heard your favorite song pop up on the Internet – just slightly faster. You’re not alone: the phenomenon of the “sped-up” remix has taken over s...
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In case you missed it, Wham’s 1984 contribution to the holiday cannon, “Last Christmas,” has surprising staying power. When Grammy-winning pianist Chilly Gonzales set out to record a holiday album, “A Very Chilly Christmas,” most of the selections were over a half century old. That’s because most of our favorite seasonal songs come from the 1960s and earlier. But in addition to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas,” Wham’s “Las...
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Holiday album releases sometimes have a sense of pandering to them. "I'm a pop star. Here's me singing the nineteen-millionth cover of 'Jingle Bell Rock.' Please give me money." The comedian and singer Matt Rogers understands this dichotomy of the holiday hit—part grotesque cash-grab, part unfathomably genuine cheer—better than anyone. His new album, Have You Heard of Christmas?, mines that tension for tragicomic gold. "Also It...
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December 12, 2023 50 mins
Nicki Minaj is one of the most unique rappers of all time. She’s given us numerous iconic guest verses from “Monster” to “Flawless (Remix),” everlasting hits like “Super Bass” and “Starships,” and legions of loyal fans in the Barbz. She’s also given us over twenty alter-egos in the course of her career. However, no alter-ego of hers has been more impactful than Roman. The voice at the center of Nicki’s most unhinged music, the “Rom...
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December 5, 2023 44 mins
Sign up for the Switched On Pop Newsletter When you make a weekly podcast about pop music, there’s some things that, naturally, slip through the cracks. On this episode of Switched On Pop, our hosts – alongside our editor, Jolie Myers, our engineer, Brandon McFarland, and our producer, Reanna Cruz – try to course correct that by discussing our team’s (and a listener’s) favorite picks of 2023. Whether it’s something we got to in th...
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Nate and Charlie were recently featured on Harman Audio Talks. While our team takes the week off, we wanted to share that conversation with you as we pull back the curtain on how we make the show and select songs for the podcast. Sign up for the Switched On Pop Newsletter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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November 21, 2023 39 mins
Noah Kahan is having a banner year. Between his Best New Artist nomination at the Grammys, his debut SNL performance, and collaborations with everyone from Post Malone to Hozier, the Vermont singer-songwriter has transcended the confines of New England to become one of the harbingers of the 2023 stomp-clap revival. This episode of Switched on Pop, host Charlie Harding sits down in person with Kahan to find some secret magic chords,...
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November 14, 2023 47 mins
Country music's had a massive year. Seriously, not since 1958 have we seen so many country tunes topping the Hot 100 in a single year – and it's not been without its share of controversy. Leading this country music revival? Morgan Wallen, for starters. He bounced back from being shunned for dropping a racial slur with his number one single “Last Night.” Then there's Jason Aldean with “Try That in a Small Town,” a song and music vid...
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November 7, 2023 30 mins
When Paul McCartney announced that he and Ringo Starr had produced a new Beatles song with the aid of AI, many music pundits were skeptical. Was this new song be another gimmick like the fake Drake hit "Heart on My Sleeve"? No. Instead, the Beatles simply used AI voice separation technology to repair a well-worn John Lennon demo tape.  Back in the '90s, Yoko Ono gave shared a collection of unfinished John Lennon demos with Paul Mc...
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Three big artists have rerecorded their most hallowed musical material. Taylor Swift, Roger Water and Demi Lovato each have different intentions in painstakingly putting their old songs onto new proverbial tape. On 1989 (Taylor's Version), Taylor Swift seeks control of her master recordings. On Dark Side of the Moon Redux Roger Waters explores his most vaunted work from his youth now with from perspective of an octogenarian. And De...
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It’s time for another edition of our series Chartbreakers, where we take a look at the trends and shakeups happening on the Billboard Hot 100. This week, however, the chart has been dominated by Drake and his album For All the Dogs, which takes up a grand total of 23 spots on the Hot 100. So, rather than do a story on that, Charlie and Nate take a look at the brand new TikTok Billboard Top 50 chart, established only last month. Th...
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Talking Head's concert film Stop Making Sense first came out forty years ago, and it’s just been rereleased in theaters in a 4k remaster by A24. The film finds the band — Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, David Byrne and Jerry Harrison — at the height of their powers over three successive nights at the the Hollywood Pantages Theater. As Chris and Tina remembered it when they spoke to producer Reanna Cruz, "We'd reached a state in our ca...
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