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Hit Parade

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.
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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

Coming Soon: Hit Parade, Live in Seattle!

4/4/2019
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Join Chris Molanphy for an evening of stories and trivia, at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle Washington, Saturday, April 13th, 2019. Tickets are going fast at Slate.com/LIVE Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:00:55

The Everybody Say YEAH! Edition

3/29/2019
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When you think of Stevie Wonder’s legendary career, what chart-toppers come to mind? “Superstition,” right? Maybe “I Wish”? Okay, but what about the start of his career, on the Motown of the ’60s? You may not know that Wonder had only one Hot 100 No. 1 in his first decade—as “Little” Stevie Wonder—and it was truly exceptional, as in bizarre: a semi-improvised live recording of a “12 Year-Old Genius” refusing to leave a Chicago stage and say goodnight. Here’s the story of “Fingertips, Part...

Duration:01:08:06

The Bridge: Cover Queens and The Boy Wonder

3/15/2019
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Host Chris Molanphy reflects on the previous full length episode of the show, and invites one Slate Plus member to play some music trivia related to an upcoming episode. This month, Molanphy is joined at the mic by T. J. Raphael, senior producer of the Slate Podcast Network. Together, they discuss some of the best cover songs of all time from the likes of Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, and more. After a break, Molanphy is joined by one listener for some music trivia related to the next...

Duration:00:21:59

The Bad Moon on the Rise Edition

2/28/2019
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In just a couple of years, Creedence Clearwater Revival generated one of the most amazing runs of hits in American pop history: from “Proud Mary” to “Green River,” “Bad Moon Rising” to “Travelin’ Band.” Reportedly, they even outsold the Beatles in America in 1969. But for all their success with those John Fogerty–penned classics, CCR never held the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100. All of those hits were No. 2s: a dubious Billboard chart record they hold to this day, for most No. 2s without a...

Duration:01:02:18

The Bridge: R. Kelly and Music's #MeToo Reckoning

2/15/2019
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Hit Parade, the music history podcast from Slate, is back with a new episode of The Bridge. In this monthly mini-episode, Host Chris Molanphy reflects on the previous full length episode of the show, and invites one Slate Plus member to play some music trivia related to an upcoming episode. This month, Molanphy is joined at the mic by T. J. Raphael, senior producer of the Slate Podcast Network. Together, they discuss the sexual assault allegations facing artist R. Kelly, and whether the...

Duration:00:23:40

The Gaga is Born Edition

1/25/2019
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A Star Is Born, the movie Hollywood can’t stop remaking, is a fairy-tale about the American dream factory. But it has also, always, been a reflection of the woman in the lead role—and the latest version stars a woman who has been playing a role for more than a decade: Stefani Germanotta, a.k.a. Lady Gaga. When Gaga scored her first No. 1 hit, “Just Dance,” 10 years ago this month, critics thought her fame might be short-lived. But Gaga had a lot to say about The Fame, and within a year she...

Duration:01:07:25

Music Trivia: Grammys and Gaga Edition

1/18/2019
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Think you know music? Hit Parade, the music history podcast from Slate, is back with a new episode of The Bridge. In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, Host Chris Molanphy reflects on the previous full length episode of the show, and invites one Slate Plus member onto the show to play some music trivia related to the upcoming episode. How does it all work? Contestants are asked three trivia questions, and the player also has the opportunity to turn the tables—they get a chance to try...

Duration:00:22:34

The Christmas is All Around Edition

12/21/2018
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In the UK, the No. 1 song the week of Christmas is a big deal. The media breathlessly covers the contest, and there are even wagers placed on what song will reach the top of the charts as pop stars and record labels jockey for position. While there are patterns to the kinds of songs that tend to do well in this perennial sweepstakes, often the winner is a fluke: Everything from Queen to the Flying Pickets to Bob the Builder has taken the crown. It was even parodied in the smash British...

Duration:01:14:07

Music Trivia: The Christmas Music Edition

12/14/2018
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Think you know music? Quiz yourself with the latest episode of Hit Parade: The Bridge. This month, Host Chris Molanphy is joined by Jessica Goldstein, the culture editor at ThinkProgress and a journalist whose work has appeared in Vulture and The Washington Post, among other places. Her October article in Entertainment Weekly, “Britney Spears wanted to be a star: An oral history of '...Baby One More Time,'” was an inspiration for the November episode of Hit Parade. Chris is also joined by...

Duration:00:25:38

The Give Me a Sign Edition

11/30/2018
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From a very young age, Britney Spears seemed destined for stardom. The kid from Louisiana had landed a role on the revived Mickey Mouse Club and styled herself as a belter of power ballads. But to score her first No. 1 hit, Spears would team up with an introverted Swedish songwriter named Max Martin. He was trying to write American R&B and instead, through Britney and her high-school dance formations, created a new template for über–American teen-pop. This month, we go inside the Stockholm...

Duration:01:14:25

Music Trivia: ’90s Teen-Pop Edition

11/16/2018
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Think you know music? Quiz yourself with the latest episode of Hit Parade: The Bridge. This month, on the heels of the 2018 midterm elections, Host Chris Molanphy is joined by T. J. Raphael, senior producer for the Slate Podcast Network, to talk about musicians who make political endorsements. Chris is joined by one listener contestant to play some music trivia, which is all about '90s teen pop. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here,...

Duration:00:19:52

The Oh. My. God. Becky Edition

10/26/2018
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In Hit Parade’s “Def Jams Edition,” we told you about rap’s first wave in the ’80s. But in this sequel (don’t believe the hype!) we enter the ’90s with still no No. 1 rap hits on the Hot 100—even though the music was starting to dominate both streets and stores: from conscious rappers like Public Enemy, to gangstas like N.W.A, to left-field innovators like De La Soul. It would take Billboard rebooting its charts in 1991 tallying record sales more accurately than ever with SoundScan data—for...

Duration:01:21:59

Music Trivia: The '90s Hip-Hop Edition

10/12/2018
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Think you know music? Hit Parade is back with a new episode of The Bridge. This month, Chris Molanphy is joined by Slate's Mike Pesca. Together, they reflect on the last full-length Hit Parade episode, which was about The BeeGees, and look ahead to next month, which is all about ‘90s hip-hop. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want...

Duration:00:21:32

The Nights on Broadway Edition

9/28/2018
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Those falsettos, those white suits, those toothy smiles: You think you know the Bee Gees. But their story goes back much further than the ’70s, and it’s full of twists. From their roots as an eclectic harmony band in Australia and their first wave of Beatlesque fame, through their domination of the disco revolution and their years as an punchline, the Bee Gees stayed alive because of the Gibb brothers’ harmonies and especially their impeccable songs. This month, Hit Parade traces the...

Duration:01:29:21

Music Trivia: The Aretha Franklin Edition

8/31/2018
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Think you know music? Hit Parade is back with a new episode of The Bridge. This month, we honor Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, who died on August 16th. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com. Podcast production by Danielle Hewitt Learn more...

Duration:00:26:36

Madonna: The Veronica Electronica Edition (Encore)

8/16/2018
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In 1998, Madonna was at a career crossroads. After dominating the ’80s with hits like “Like a Virgin” and “Open Your Heart,” she spent the first half of the ’90s wavering between roles as a provocateur (Erotica, Sex) and adult-contemporary balladeer (“I’ll Remember,” “Take a Bow”). That’s when she took a sharp left turn, working with producers and deejays in the burgeoning electronica scene. If it even was a scene: The very term “electronica” was a music-business confection, and by 1997 it...

Duration:01:13:17

The Feat. Don’t Fail Me Now Edition

7/27/2018
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Guest performers have existed since, literally, the beginning of the pop charts—the first Billboard No. 1 hit had a featured vocal by Frank Sinatra. Throughout the rock era, some very starry guests have helped out with hits by everyone from the Beatles to Carly Simon to Chaka Khan. But for a long time, those guests received no credit at all. Today, their names are all over the pop charts. On this episode, we trace the evolution of the guest performer, from Mick Jagger to Bobby Brown to Cardi...

Duration:01:10:42

The Deadbeat Club Edition, Part Two

7/13/2018
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In the second part of our two-part episode about the B-52’s and R.E.M.—the bands that put Athens, Georgia on the map, and helped define new-wave rock in the early ’80s—we trace how they transformed themselves from hipsters to hitmakers. One band waited years to graduate from an indie label to the majors. The other almost quit after an AIDS-related tragedy, before their pop breakthrough. By the end of the ’80s, their hits—from “Orange Crush” to “Stand,” “Channel Z” to “Love Shack”—brought...

Duration:00:54:58

The Deadbeat Club Edition, Part One

6/29/2018
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The B-52’s and R.E.M. don’t sound all that much like each other. One group were avatars of kitsch, fusing punk, girl-group and garage rock—even Yoko Ono—into a retro-nuevo style all their own. The other group were mysterious, elliptical, often indecipherable, but they reinvented jangly guitar and classic-rock influences to make a new kind of New Wave. Together, this pair of distinctive bands helped make Athens, Georgia the epicenter of alternative cool in the ’80s and ’90s. In part one of...

Duration:01:01:10

Music Trivia: The MTV and Alt-Rock Edition

6/15/2018
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The Bridge is back, and this time it's tackling some music trivia about the heyday of MTV, and some alt-rock favorites. Play along at home and quiz yourself by listening to The Bridge. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email hitparade@slate.com. Podcast production by T. J. Raphael Learn more...

Duration:00:18:21