Getting serious about the silly stuff. Hayley Campbell & friends examine the biggest pop culture moments of the recent past.

Getting serious about the silly stuff. Hayley Campbell & friends examine the biggest pop culture moments of the recent past.
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Getting serious about the silly stuff. Hayley Campbell & friends examine the biggest pop culture moments of the recent past.




Estelle, Jamelia and the Exile of UK R&B

Many black, UK-based, female R&B performers, especially those from the early 2000s, have found it hard to establish a career at home. Acts such as Estelle, Jamelia, Sade, Ms Dynamite, Cleopatra and Misteeq have either left the music industry completely, diversified into presenting and acting or have re-established a base in the US in an attempt to continue their careers. Meanwhile American performers such as Beyonce, Rihanna and Alicia Keys who started their careers at a similar time,...


Stephen King and the Side Effects of Populism

Stephen King is one of the most popular and successful authors on the planet. Known primarily as a horror writer, King has also written fantasy, science-fiction, thrillers, memoirs, essays, crime novels and a well-regarded book about the craft of the novelist entitled On Writing. Since 1974, when his first book Carrie was released, King has sold an estimated 350 million books, and he is the most adapted living author with most of his works turned in films and TV series. But he has also faced...


Final Fantasy VII and Redefinition

The Role Playing Game Final Fantasy VII was released for the Sony Playstation in 1997 and was a massive commercial and critical success, eventually selling nearly 10 million copies worldwide and spawning various spin-offs, sequels, and a new reboot planned for the future. With its epic scope, high drama and relentless action, it is considered an iconic, seminal, impeccable video game that has had a massive influence on the gaming world. But it is not without its critics. Some feel that the...


Watchmen and the Superhero Concept

Released in 1986, first as a twelve-part comic book series and then collected together as a graphic novel, Watchmen came from the unique mind of writer Alan Moore alongside artist Dave Gibbons. It featured superheroes as they had never been seen before: flawed, vulnerable, evil and damaged; existing in a dystopian, alternative 1980s America where Richard Nixon was still the President. Published by comics giant DC, Watchmen was an enormous critical success, introducing a new, adult audience...


Eurotrash and Revelation

The Channel 4 television series Eurotrash launched in 1993, ran for 16 series and was considered the most popular entertainment offering on the channel at that time with its mix of snark, sex, outrageous behaviour and bizarre individuals. Originally hosted by Antoine de Caunes and Jean-Paul Gaultier, it was a magazine style show with its tongue firmly in its cheek. Each week it showcased peculiarities from around the globe including strange animal acts, naked Germans, an obsession with...


Now That's What I Call Music and Survival

First released in 1983, the Now That's What I Call Music compilation album series was a joint venture between music giants Virgin and EMI, which collected together 30 of the biggest chart hits from that particular period. The success of the first Now album led to a number of copycat versions including Hits and Out Now, but these were short-lived compared to Now, who saw every release reach multiple platinum sales. And the series has continued to go from strength to strength despite enormous...


Instagram and Artifice

Founded in 2010, the photo sharing social media platform Instagram quickly exploded in popularity, registering one million users in its first two months, followed by 10 million in its first year. In 2012, Facebook bought the service for around $1 billion. Today, it boasts 800 million monthly active users with 70 million photos uploaded every day. Alongside Twitter and Facebook it has become a dominant social media force. But Instagram has also been the subject of criticism. Studies have...


Bridget Jones and the Status of Comedy

Bridget Jones first appeared in diary form in the pages of The Independent during the mid-1990s, detailing her life of failed romances, over-indulgence and a determination to change. The columns were collected into a book - 1996’s Bridget Jones Diary - which went on to sell over two million copies worldwide and won the 1998 British Book of the Year. A film followed in 2001 which grossed over $280 million and earned an Academy Award nomination for the film’s star Renée Zellweger. Three more...


One Direction and Conspiracy Theories

In 2010, One Direction came only third in TV talent show The X Factor. And yet they went on to become one of the biggest bands in the world. The group went on to have enormous success around the world, selling more than 50 million albums and 25 million singles. In 2015, the band announced an indefinite hiatus and all the members launched solo careers. They also, partly through their canny use of social media, developed a large and passionate fanbase. With much of the band’s activity shared...


Seinfeld and the Tyranny of Endings

Created in 1989, the American television sitcom Seinfeld was almost cancelled after the first episode, but it slowly grew in reputation to become, after nine seasons and 180 episodes, one of the most influential and successful TV series ever. As well as introducing the characters of Seinfeld, Elaine, George and Kramer to the television viewing public, the show invented a lexicon that entered the language including 'yada yada yada', 'double dipping' and 'regifting'. Famously a show about...


Unpopped: Back Soon!

Unpopped is taking a little break and will be back in a few weeks. But while you're waiting - here are just a few of the things that we might be looking at in the next series.


David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest and Legacy

Released in 1996, David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest was critically lauded on release and became a New York Times bestseller. But since the author’s suicide in 2008, the book and Wallace himself has undergone a change in reputation. While the book still has its staunch defenders, with many considering it a masterpiece, it has also become shorthand for a sort of ‘literary chauvinism’ - seen to be adored by a certain type of male reader who insists on imposing their opinion on all,...


The Roots of Grime and Representation

Emerging from the estates of East London in the early 2000s, Grime threw together elements of garage, jungle, Jamaican dancehall and hip-hop to produce a distinct, home-grown British music genre. Using unorthodox music distribution methods such as pirate radio, raves, mixtapes and DVDs, Grime bypassed the traditional music industry completely, developing its own identity, sound and lifestyle which has been likened to the punk movement of the 1970s. Fiercely independent and distinctly...


YouTube and Ubiquity

The video sharing and hosting site YouTube was launched in 2005 and quickly became one of the most visited and influential websites on the planet. Since its inception, it has arguably transformed the worlds of politics, music, health, advertising ,DIY, beauty, comedy and all branches of traditional broadcast media. It has also spawned its own breed of celebrity, the YouTuber, those dedicated to sharing their lives online. But why was it YouTube, rather than any number of similar sites, that...


Come Dine With Me and the British Psyche

Across 41 series and nearly 1700 episodes, Come Dine With Me has developed into a beloved TV staple, with one publication declaring it 'the greatest show on television'. Featuring four or five contestants each hosting a dinner party in their home and being scored on the results, the show is a reality/game show/cookery hybrid that has captured the public's imagination and spawned versions around the world. What is it about the show that is so compelling? How is it put together and what...


Chris Morris and the Darkness of Comedy

Dubbed by one newspaper as ‘the most hated man in Britain’, comedian Chris Morris has always walked a fine line between biting satire and controversy. From his earliest days in local radio, allegedly engaging in stunts that led to his dismissal, to mocking radio and television news structures in On The Hour and The Day Today and skewering moral panics in Brass Eye - Morris has both delighted and appalled critics while gathering a dedicated legion of fans. Comedic experiments such as Nathan...


Tomb Raider and Indomitability

In 1993, the video game Tomb Raider was released. The game was an instant success, selling 7 million copies worldwide and catapulting female protagonist Lara Croft to icon status. More games followed plus film adaptations of Lara’s adventures. It is now considered one of the most important games in the history of the industry. But it also provoked controversy in the way Lara Croft was portrayed and marketed. Why was having a woman as the focal point of a video game so unusual, what effect...


Twin Peaks and Forensic Fandom

In 1990, celebrated, maverick director David Lynch, fresh from the success of his film Blue Velvet, launched the television series Twin Peaks. A mixture of quirky characters, surrealistic imagery and a murky murder mystery, the show was a massive success enjoying enormous ratings, lavished with critical acclaim and winning numerous awards. But the second season floundered, the audience evaporated, Lynch abandoned the show and the watercooler chatter dried up. After making a controversial and...


The Spice Girls and Kathy Acker

In 1997, legendary experimental writer Kathy Acker was sent by The Guardian to interview The Spice Girls. Acker, who emerged from the New York punk scene, was the author of Blood and Guts in High School, a work so extreme it was banned in several countries. The Spice Girls were at the height of their superstardom, with a number of chart-topping hits around the world and about to make their American television debut. What happened when these two seemingly incongruous artists met? Where did...


Paris Hilton and the Demise of the Party Girl

Who was Paris Hilton, why were the media so fascinated by her, how did she grab our attention and did she provide the blueprint for the current celebrity obsessed culture? Presenter: Hayley Campbell Producer: Dale Shaw