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Switched On Pop

Panoply

Pop music surrounds us, but how often do we really listen to what we’re hearing? Switched on Pop is the podcast that pulls back the curtain on pop music. Each episode, join musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding as they reveal the secret formulas that make pop songs so infectious. By figuring out how pop hits work their magic, you’ll fall in love with songs you didn’t even know you liked.

Pop music surrounds us, but how often do we really listen to what we’re hearing? Switched on Pop is the podcast that pulls back the curtain on pop music. Each episode, join musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding as they reveal the secret formulas that make pop songs so infectious. By figuring out how pop hits work their magic, you’ll fall in love with songs you didn’t even know you liked.
More Information

Location:

United States

Networks:

Panoply

Description:

Pop music surrounds us, but how often do we really listen to what we’re hearing? Switched on Pop is the podcast that pulls back the curtain on pop music. Each episode, join musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding as they reveal the secret formulas that make pop songs so infectious. By figuring out how pop hits work their magic, you’ll fall in love with songs you didn’t even know you liked.

Language:

English


Episodes

Country at the Crossroads

4/16/2019
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Lil Nas X currently holds the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his surprise hit “Old Town Road.” But though the song is dripping with country twang, you won’t find it anywhere on the country charts. That’s because Billboard removed it, on the grounds of not having enough “musical elements” of country—a move that in turn left many wondering if the vanishing had something to do with Lil Nas X, a black artist, venturing into a field dominated by white musicians. We dig deep into the...

Duration:00:41:18

Billie Eilish is a Different Kind of Pop Star (ft. FINNEAS)

4/9/2019
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On a trajectory to be one of the biggest pop stars for this generation, seventeen year old Billie Eilish is not, however, your typical pop star. Her music speaks to the real anxieties of young people without any veneer. She sings from the perspective of monsters and villains. Her hushed voice, baggy style, and direct demeanor subvert the norms of the pop princess. And her music is dark, but still catchy. Billie co-writes and produces her sound with her older brother Finneas O’Connell....

Duration:00:45:29

BONUS: Bhi Bhiman's 'Peace of Mind' Episode 1

4/7/2019
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Switched on Pop is pleased to present Episode 1 of Peace of Mind -- the new album (released as a podcast) by singer/songwriter Bhi Bhiman. In this episode Bhi digs into the fear and madness that characterizes so much of this crazy time in America. Guests include author Dave Eggers, Snap Judgement's Glynn Washington and renowned social psychologist, Lee Ross. The song for this episode is “Brother Can You Spare Some Peace of Mind?” Subscribe to Peace of Mind...

Duration:00:29:22

Bhi Bhiman Puts the Music Before the Message

4/2/2019
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Bhi Bhiman joins to explain the "nerd punk rock" behind releasing his new album Peace of Mind with an accompanying podcast. Since Bhiman explores issues like deportation on the track "Beyond the Border," there's a lot to say about each song. Even though he tackles tough topics, Bhiman make sure he puts music before the message. "Beyond the Border" summons a vast range of funky influences, from Van Halen to the Allman Brothers, to ask what America really means. Featuring •Bhi...

Duration:00:45:14

Comeback Kids: The Jonas Brothers are Back

3/25/2019
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After a six year hiatus, Nick, Joe, and Kevin Jonas are back with a new single and the stakes couldn't be higher. With each brother attaining a higher plane of celebrity during their time off, the three must achieve pop success or face public humiliation. How do they do it? With three ingredients that ensure a hit song in 2019: 1) whistle while you work, 2) Homer the funky drummer, and 3) tune in, turn in, drop out. Songs Featured: Survey We are conducting an audience survey to better...

Duration:00:37:23

Lost & Found: The Drama of Pop Form with Emily King

3/19/2019
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Live from SXSW: Grammy nominee songwriter Emily King didn’t set out to write a perfect pop song with “Remind Me.” Instead, she bent the rules of song structure to fit her message: the magical feeling when you find something you’ve been long missing. Mirroring this theme, the chorus doesn’t come when you expect it. The climax arrives late, after an “aha” moment that fills in the forgotten details. Each instrument fits perfectly together like a lost memory coming into focus. Even after she...

Duration:00:30:20

How Streaming Changed the Sound of Pop

3/12/2019
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Streaming hasn't just changed the way we listen to music, it's changed the way that pop music sounds. After years of losses due to the death of the CD and the rise of file sharing, the music industry has finally found a profitable business in streaming services. Streaming has overtaken all other music sales. Digital music platforms are the new Virgin megastore. But these services are more than just a distribution mechanism, they have created a whole new music economy. Album sales have been...

Duration:00:36:49

Top 40 Activism with Justin Tranter

3/5/2019
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Can political protest exist within the confines of commercial popular music? Songwriter Justin Tranter is equal parts songwriter and activist. You've likely heard his contributions to songs by Britney Spears, Julia Michaels, Selena Gomez, Janelle Monae and Ariana Grande, but unless you were paying close attention, you may have missed the essential subtext in his work. As an LGBTQ activist and board member of GLAAD, Justin brings his activism into Top 40 pop music lyrically and otherwise. On...

Duration:00:48:14

What Makes An Award Winning Song?

2/19/2019
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What if music awards were given out for only musical qualities? It may seem like celebrity and spectacle are more important than ever at the 61st Grammy Awards, but we believe many of this years winners earned their accolades with noteworthy music. Still, we thought the winners should be heralded by new, more musical categories. Find out how And The Awards Go To: Best Chord Progression: H.E.R. - "Hard Place" & "Focus" Best Throwback: Silk City & Dua Lipa ft. Diplo & Mark Ronson -...

Duration:00:32:23

What Makes a Song Sexy?

2/5/2019
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Author Courtney Smith joins to offer her expertise on an urgent topic in advance of Valentine's Day: Can we abstract the sexiest songs of all time into a universal list of arousing musical qualities? We try our best by examining five decades of pop sexiness, discovering lyrical lingerie, and consider the most (and least) seductive instruments. Featuring: Nina Simone - I Want Some Sugar in My Bowl Donna Summer - Love to Love You Baby INXS - Need You Tonight Portishead - Glory Box Kings...

Duration:00:33:56

The Deep History of '7 Rings'

1/29/2019
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"7 Rings" is Ariana Grande's latest smash, a glittering banger that owes much to Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1959 classic "My Favorite Things." 60 years later, Grande updates the track for a modern audience, making her the latest artist to repurpose this anthem from the "Sound of Music." When it comes to Ari's flow, however, questions of appropriation arise. Author Lauren Michele Jackson joins to break down who has the right to repurpose sonic history. Featuring: • Ariana Grande - 7 Rings •...

Duration:00:38:15

Do You Believe in Life After Autotune?

1/22/2019
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Auto-Tune may be the most divisive effect in music. Artists have protested it publicly at the Grammys, and critics have derided the effects for its inauthentic reproduction of the voice. And yet, nearly a decade since Jay-Z prophesied the death of Auto-Tune, the sound is alive and thriving in contemporary pop and hip-hop. Journalist Simon Reynolds has written a definitive history of Auto-Tune for Pitchfork that fundamentally changed how we hear this sound. This deep dive criss crosses...

Duration:00:48:07

Slay Bells, All Year Long

12/25/2018
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This winter season unwrap a deep dive through a pop subgenre of monumental importance: non-holiday songs that feature sleigh bells, from Bonnie Tyler to Nas, On Side B, we rebroadcast our episode on Mariah Carey's classic "All I Want for Christmas Is You"...and more sleigh bells. Featuring: •The Beach Boys - God Only Knows •Gustav Mahler - 4th Symphony, I •Michael Jackson - Jam •Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the Heart •Miles Davis - On the Corner •Nas - Halftime •Kygo ft. Conrad...

Duration:00:38:54

Look What You Made Us Do

12/11/2018
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Four years into Switched On Pop, Charlie and Nate finally reveal what was behind the entire series. We may have not been totally honest with you from the beginning. Back in 2014 we were more pop skeptics than fanatics. The genre was, to some degree, the sugar that made the musical analysis medicine go down. And then something happened. Just as people started to listen to the show, we too began to open our ears. Now, in our 100th episode, Charlie interviews Nate about how transforming the way...

Duration:00:56:38

Entering Beard Phase with Mike Posner

11/27/2018
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Mike Posner has written hits for himself like "I Took a Pill in Ibiza," and for stars from Justin Bieber ("Boyfriend") to Maroon 5 ("Sugar"), so he has insights for days on what makes a pop song work. We dig into Mike's excellent new track "Song About You," which leads to an exploration of songs that reuse the same melody for verse and chorus—from Prince to The Boss to Post Malone. Last, we consider "beard phase": a moment of artistic reinvention that every artist has in their career,...

Duration:00:51:37

How Dirty Projectors Make You Feel Energy (with David Longstreth)

11/13/2018
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Dirty Projectors are known for their kaleidoscopic soundscapes. They make strange bedfellows of music techniques like 14th vocal harmonies and African guitar rhythms. But in the backdrop of their obscure orchestrations you will hear the indelible marks of pop music. Longstreth has recently collaborated on songs with Solange, Rihanna, Kanye and Paul McCartney. On his new track "I Feel Energy" we can hear that pop influence shine through. Together we break down his unpredictable 808s to see...

Duration:00:55:29

Stairway To Hell: Greta Van Fleet’s Scorching Album Review That Went Viral

10/30/2018
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Classic rock climaxed a half century ago, yet it still survives in two places: FM radio & Greta Van Fleet. The later are an upstart of four boys from Michigan who have found stardom by dusting off the mantle of guitar driven rock. Their latest album, Anthem Of The Peaceful Army, bares an uncanny sonic resemblance to Led Zeppelin. Jeremy D. Larson, senior editor of Pitchfork, gave the album a 1.6 out of 10 calling it "stiff, hackneyed, overly precious retro-fetishism." His vicious and...

Duration:00:59:28

Charli XCX and Troye Sivan Love the 90s

10/16/2018
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Charli XCX and Troye Sivan conjure late 90s nostalgia in their latest banger. "1999" drips with lyrical nostalgia for the last decade of the millennium — but does the music follow suit? We think the pair are missing prime opportunities to bring back some neglected musical tricks from the early oeuvre of Britney Spears. The 90s bug goes beyond Charli and Troye. Anne-Marie and Lauren Alaina also pine for the Clinton era in their millennial bops. Which makes one ask: is the present so bad that...

Duration:00:38:57

Sicko Rap and Drunk Country

10/2/2018
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Four songs on the Hot 100 pop chart reveal the new directions in which music is headed. Travis Scott's "Sicko Mode" boasts an unprecedented formal structure that points to the future of hip hop. Meanwhile, in the world of country, Jason Aldean, Mitchell Tenpenny, and Dan + Shay are putting a modern spin on one of the style's oldest tropes: drinking bourbon. Together these tracks make up the vanguard of their respective genres, but are fans willing to take the plunge? Featuring: Travis...

Duration:00:33:51

The Side Effects of Pop Music with Emily Warren

9/18/2018
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Emily Warren is one of the great rising stars of contemporary songwriting. Her song "Side Effects" with The Chainsmokers is currently rising up the charts. You’ve also heard her writing on Dua Lipa’s "New Rules." She’s collaborated with many of the best performers in music earning her a Grammy and multi-platinum success with “Don’t Let Me Down.” She's also recently released her single "Paranoid." Emily is a real songwriters songwriter. Her process is as much therapy as art. Together we break...

Duration:00:46:54