Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia-logo

Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia

Slate

What makes a song a smash? Talent? Luck? Timing? All that—and more. Chris Molanphy, pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts and shaped your memories forever.

What makes a song a smash? Talent? Luck? Timing? All that—and more. Chris Molanphy, pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts and shaped your memories forever.

Location:

United States

Networks:

Slate

Description:

What makes a song a smash? Talent? Luck? Timing? All that—and more. Chris Molanphy, pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts and shaped your memories forever.

Language:

English


Episodes

Taylor’s Version of Country, Part 2

4/30/2021
In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy continues his analysis of Taylor: the country years, dissecting how she gradually, step by step, became the new queen of pop one irresistible song at a time. She went from interviewing bigger stars on MTV’s red carpet one year, to being the talk of the Video Music Awards the next—even before Kanye took that microphone away from her. He told Taylor he would let her finish, but the game was already over. Swift had the most played song in...

Duration:00:54:44

Taylor’s Version of Country, Part 1

4/16/2021
Taylor Swift’s new album is a reboot of an old album: Fearless, her 2008 chart-topping juggernaut that made her the biggest star on the Billboard charts. But Fearless (Taylor’s Version)—filled with banjos, steel guitars and fiddles—is also a reminder for those who forgot: Swift was once the top act in country music, too. From Dolly Parton to Shania Twain, the Chicks to Faith Hill, no country artist has ever crossed over to pop the way Taylor did, utterly dominating one genre before she took...

Duration:00:55:14

Don’t Know Much About History, Part 2

4/2/2021
In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy continues his analysis of the music of Sam Cooke. The Oscar-nominated film One Night in Miami… imagines the conversation between Cooke, Malcolm X, Cassius Clay and Jim Brown the night in 1964 they gathered to celebrate the soon-to-be Muhammad Ali’s heavyweight victory. Malcolm X challenges Sam Cooke to use his amazing voice to help “the struggle.” Little did he know Cooke had already recorded his civil‑rights masterpiece, “A Change Is...

Duration:00:54:40

Don’t Know Much About History, Part 1

3/23/2021
The Oscar-nominated film One Night in Miami… imagines the conversation between Sam Cooke, Malcolm X, Cassius Clay and Jim Brown the night in 1964 they gathered to celebrate the soon-to-be Muhammad Ali’s heavyweight victory. Malcolm X challenges Sam Cooke to use his amazing voice to help “the struggle.” Little did he know Cooke had already recorded his civil‑rights masterpiece, “A Change Is Gonna Come.” In this episode, Chris Molanphy sets the record straight on the man now called the King of...

Duration:00:54:29

The AC/DC Rule, Part 2

2/26/2021
In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy continues to demonstrate a weird chart phenomenon he calls The AC/DC Rule. Hit Parade episodes are now split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info. What was the only No. 1 album by Jimi Hendrix? How about the first No. 1 by Billy Joel? Jackson Browne? Pat Benatar? Pearl Jam? Lady Gaga?...

Duration:01:18:36

The AC/DC Rule, Part 1

2/12/2021
Quick, what was the only No. 1 album by Jimi Hendrix? How about the first No. 1 by Billy Joel? Jackson Browne? Pat Benatar? Pearl Jam? Lady Gaga? In all cases, the answer isn’t obvious—it’s not the album you know best, the one with the most hits on it. It’s the album after that classic that goes to No. 1. And there’s no better example than AC/DC, the Australian-by-way-of-Scotland hard rock band that’s sold more than 20 million copies of Back in Black. But it was their next album (can you...

Duration:00:47:43

These Are the Good Times, Part 2

1/29/2021
Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus. In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, we continue the story of how Chic—cofounded by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards—gave life to disco through the 1980s and beyond. Their “Good Times”...

Duration:01:23:53

These Are the Good Times, Part 1

1/19/2021
Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus. How can you tell disco didn’t really die at the start of the 1980s? Because half of ’80s pop owed its sound to one of disco’s most seminal acts. Chic—cofounded by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard...

Duration:00:59:00

Smells Like Christmas Spirit, Part 2

12/31/2020
Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus. In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, we continue the story of how Nirvana’s Nevermind ousted Michael Jackson’s Dangerous from the top of the Billboard album chart, Chris Molanphy examines the chart...

Duration:00:50:50

Smells Like Christmas Spirit, Part 1

12/14/2020
Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus. When Nirvana’s Nevermind ousted Michael Jackson’s Dangerous from the top of the Billboard album chart, it made headlines in early 1992. Only, it didn’t really happen in ’92. What gave Nirvana the win...

Duration:00:35:36

Friends in Low Places, Part 2

11/27/2020
Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus. Hit Parade continues the story of Garth Brooks. In the ’90s, he was country-authentic, ignored pop radio, and still utterly dominated the charts as the decade’s biggest multiplatinum megastar. Brooks took...

Duration:00:43:21

Friends in Low Places, Part 1

11/16/2020
Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus. Today your Hit Parade marches to the week ending October 27th, 1990, when “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks was in its fourth week at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles and Tracks, the same week...

Duration:01:20:23

Turn Around, Bright Eyes, Part 2

10/30/2020
Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus. In part 2 of our episode on Meatloaf maestro Jim Steinman: Chris Molanphy continues the story of how Steinman moved on from Meatloaf to emerge as a hitmaker for other artists like Bonnie Tyler with "Total...

Duration:00:56:12

Turn Around, Bright Eyes, Part 1

10/16/2020
Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus. Producers and songwriters have a major impact on how a finished pop song sounds, and feels. But it’s possible no hitmaking mastermind—not even Phil Spector—has had a more specific pop sound than Jim...

Duration:00:50:42

One and Done, Part 2

10/2/2020
Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For full episodes on the day of release, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus. In part two of our one-hit wonders show, we propose three rules to identify a one-hit wonder, which is not as easy as it sounds: Dexys Midnight Runners? They’re a one-hit wonder. Men Without Hats? Nope,...

Duration:00:50:17

One and Done, Part 1

9/18/2020
Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus. “One-hit wonder” is a popular term in our culture—and not just in music: sportscasters, Wall Street analysts and news anchors all use it. But what does “one-hit wonder” actually mean on the pop charts? Hit Parade...

Duration:00:51:44

The Bridge: Yacht Or Nyacht?

8/28/2020
First, we have a few announcements about the future of Hit Parade—and it’s good news for both Slate Plus members and non-Plus listeners. While the economic challenges of COVID-19 certainly haven’t abated, Hit Parade has attracted enough new Plus members to allow us to take some episodes out from behind Slate’s paywall starting in September. Starting next month, full-length Hit Parade episodes will debut in the middle of the month, not the end (our next full-length episode drops on Friday,...

Duration:00:49:34

Wednesday Night Live: Music Trivia

8/14/2020
Hey, Hit Parade listeners—we’ve got an unusual schedule for August. Today’s show is a recording of last week’s installment of Slate’s Wednesday Night Live, which was a live Hit Parade trivia edition. I was the host, and I got to quiz several Slate luminaries on Billboard chart brainteasers. We had a blast. Then, later this month, in the place where we would normally bring you a full-length story, we’ll instead be doing a super-sized edition of our regular Hit Parade—“The Bridge” show. We’ll...

Duration:00:03:57

What a Fool Believes Edition

7/31/2020
Like many media organizations at the moment, Slate is getting hit pretty hard by what's going on with the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue doing our work, providing you with all our great podcasts, news and reporting, and we simply cannot do that without your support. So we're asking you to sign up for Slate Plus, our membership program. It's just $35 for the first year, and it goes a long way to supporting us in this crucial moment. In the late ’70s and...

Duration:00:08:16

The Bridge: Lilith’s Winding Road

7/17/2020
In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Jessica Hopper, acclaimed critic for publications like Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, GQ, The Guardian, Elle and Bookforum, and author of the books The Girls’ Guide to Rocking, The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic and Night Moves. Her deeply researched September 2019 piece for Vanity Fair, “Building a Mystery: An Oral History of Lilith Fair,” informed and helped inspire the latest...

Duration:00:07:01