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

November 29, 2022 27 min
In case you missed it last year: 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 t...
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In hip-hop, what draws us to an artist is not just the content of their lyrics but how they deliver them. Along with tapping your foot to the rhythm, understanding something called “flow” is essential to understanding hip-hop as a whole. In this episode of Switched On Pop, we interview genre icon DJ Jazzy Jeff on the concept of flow: what it is, how it applies to all music – not just hip-hop – and how any rapper’s flow can be anal...
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November 15, 2022 26 min
Coping Mechanism, Willow's new album, is her heaviest music yet. Charlie and Willow chat about the making of the new record and the many multitudes of rock music. Music Discussed The Anxiety - Meet Me At Our Spot Willow - Maybe It's My Fault, UR Town, Human Leach, PrettyGirlz, Lipstick, Why, Breakout, Hover Like a Goddess, Curious/Furious, Ur A Stranger Yungblood - Memories (with Willow) Deftones - Sextape Radiohead -...
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November 8, 2022 33 min
Tegan & Sara and King Princess have found themselves placed under the banner, "sapphic pop," a term recently coined referring to music by and/or for sapphics (a.k.a. women or femme folks attracted to other femme folks). Journalist Emma Madden defines the folk-inspired sound as having a “soft tactile approach” that’s “more sensual than it is sexual.” This umbrella folds in everyone from indie pop veterans Tegan & Sar...
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Scary Pockets is the musical collective that has been transforming pop classics into funk anthems for over half a decade. Each week they release a new cover on YouTube featuring razor-sharp instrumentalists and a rotating cast of virtuosic lead singers. Amazingly, each of their 200-plus covers is arranged on the fly, in a span of about 90 minutes—capturing the talent and spontaneity of a group of musicians at the top of their game....
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 A Taylor Swift album is just not a collection of new music, it’s an exploration of a theme. For the last eight years, each release has embodied a single idea. Reputation marked a turn to the dark side, Lover a return to the light, and her pair of albums Folklore and Evermore painted acoustic, fictional landscapes. Each album propels fans to find covert lyrical connections to her personal life, and easter eggs to past compositions....
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It’s the song that launched a thousand TikTok videos – or over 500,000 to be exact: Steve Lacy’s “Bad Habit.”  The track is a smooth, psychedelia tinged ode to yearning, currently spending its third week on the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Lacy is an artist dedicated to shifting form and convention, from his records with alternative R&B band The Internet to his productions for artists like Mac Miller and Vampire Weekend. Even...
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Earlier this year, the members of Sylvan Esso took a gamble, making their "most free and wild and strange" album yet: No Rules Sandy. And to add to the overall theme of lawlessness, Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn decided to do something equally as free and radical: they decided to forgo the typical multi-year album cycle as well as a standard promo campaign. While wrapped in what Amelia calls a “PR cocoon,” she began to thin...
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October 4, 2022 26 min
After a four-year hiatus – and a name drop on a Beyoncé remix – musical polymath Santigold is back with a brand new album. Known for her signature blend of genre-defying songcraft, the artist’s fourth studio album Spirituals is one of her most artistically challenging projects yet. It’s another venture into what she does best: addressing heavy themes through toe-tapping melodies. From Nate’s personal favorite, 2016’s “Can’t Get Eno...
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September 27, 2022 33 min
In part 1 of our Vergecast: Future of Music series, Alex Cranz talks with Switched on Pop's Charlie Harding about the trends in music today that make new songs out of old material, and whether it's foreshadowing the future of pop. Further reading: Selena Quintanilla Will Sound Older on Her New Posthumous Album Michael Jackson songs removed from streaming services to 'move beyond' fake vocals controversy Shred with G...
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September 20, 2022 32 min
After an enlightening experience at Lady Gaga's Chromatica Ball, producer Reanna Cruz takes a look at the connection between Gaga's music and the Latin sounds she's engaged with over the years, from traditional rancheras to the rhythm of reggaeton. Songs discussed: Lady Gaga, “Alejandro” Ace of Base, “Don’t Turn Around” ABBA, “Chiquitita – Spanish Version” Madonna, “La Isla Bonita” Rihanna, “Te Amo” Vittorio Mont...
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September 13, 2022 26 min
Why do so many songs sound familiar? Because the number of chart topping interpolations — songs built off of old hits — has roughly doubled in the five years. It’s everywhere, you can’t escape because many people are embracing it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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September 6, 2022 17 min
Who had the song of the summer? Sam Sanders chats with Switched on Pop's Charlie Harding and Reanna Cruz about whose song (and album) is in the running: Beyoncé, Bad Bunny, Lizzo, or Kate Bush?  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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August 30, 2022 32 min
Are you like Nate? Is there one artist that, every time you hear them, you can't help it—you start to grimace, sweat, seethe. You can't explain it, but there's something about them that you just. can't. stand. For Nate, that band is the Killers. Lots of people love this band, they've been around for almost two decades, they're practically an institution! So why can't he get past his hang up? Charlie and ...
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A lot has happened in the world of Kpop this summer, from Girls’ Generation sugar coated banger “Forever 1” marking a triumphant return from a five year hiatus, to the ascendance of newcomers NewJeans, whose R&B infused sounds have quickly taken over the charts. But it's the return of BLACKPINK that has lit up the world literally in pink. Get a full deep dive on the songs at the top of the Kpop charts on the latest episode ...
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Demi Lovato has found herself in many avenues over the past few years – from releasing a tell-all documentary to uncovering extraterrestrials – but 2022 finds them traveling back in time to the sound of the late 90’s and early 2000’s: pop-punk. On this episode of Switched On Pop, we check out her two latest singles, “Skin of My Teeth” and “Substance,” and through focusing on the latter, pull out what, exactly, pop-punk is, and how ...
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August 9, 2022 31 min
Beyoncé’s new album Renaissance is one of her most ambitious albums yet. On this week’s episode of Switched On Pop, we discuss Renaissance with beloved guest Sam Sanders, host of the new Vulture podcast Into It. In Sanders’ words: “it’s trying to do a lot” – but in the best way. The album incorporates seemingly every decade of contemporary popular dance music from Chic’s “Good Times” to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.” Much of th...
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August 5, 2022 39 min
Subscribe to Into It with Sam Sanders Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://bit.ly/3vE4jqf Listen on Spotify: https://bit.ly/3bB7Vmf Listen elsewhere: https://bit.ly/3BI0Nz0 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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In the middle of a long, hot summer 2022, the people have spoken, and the people want to dance. Lizzo's "About Damn Time" just replaced Harry Styles's "As It Was" to become the top song on the Billboard Hot 100. Powered by retro instrumentation, a propulsive groove, meme-worthy lyrics, and a generous dose of slash chords (not the Guns 'n Roses guitarist, the harmonic voicing), Lizzo's hit song marks ...
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Baz Luhrmann’s hit box office hit biopic Elvis has spurred new interest in the music of The King. Elvis Presley’s streaming subscribers has grown by two million listeners on Spotify since the film’s release according to ChartMetric, and if you’re hearing a lot more “Hound Dog” these days, it might be partially due to the success of Doja Cat’s hit song “Vegas,” which updates – and interpolates – the song for contemporary listeners. ...
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