Switched on Pop

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What makes pop songs so catchy? Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work their magic on our ears & our culture. You’ll fall in love with music you didn’t even know you liked.

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  • Nov 30, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
  • weekly NEW EPISODES
  • 38m AVG DURATION
  • 265 EPISODES

Listeners of Switched on Pop that love the show mention: nate and charlie, pop songs, music theory, popular music, epik high, fan of pop, charlie and nate, love pop music, music geek, switched, mambo, fan of music, musical analysis, billie eilish, musical knowledge, nu metal, music like, justin bieber, one direction, great music podcast.



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Latest episodes from Switched on Pop

The Beatles get back to their roots

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2021 40:47

2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles' final album, Let it Be. To commemorate the occasion, the remaining members of the band have remixed the album and unleashed an eight-hour-plus documentary directed by Peter Jackson that lays bare the making of the record. For super-fans this video memoir reveals a lot about the messiness of the creative process: The Beatles nearly broke up while making it! Author Tim Riley says that the band approached Let It Be with an aesthetic challenge: to get back to playing as a live band. But the original release of the album deviated from that mission and received mixed reviews. Over the decades, The Beatles have revisited this work with multiple mixes and alternative takes that try to show the original spirit of this direct-to-tape, live album. Charlie and Nate listen back, warts and all, to get to the heart of this enigmatic project. Songs Discussed The Beatles - I Saw Her Standing There, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Strawberry Fields, Dig A Pony, Good Golly Miss Molly, I've Got A Feeling, One After 909, Get Back, Two Of Us, The Long & Winding Road, Let It Be, I Me Mine Little Richard - Tutti Frutti More Read Tim Riley's works on The Beatles Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Taylor, Adele & Silk Sonic's broken hearts club (with Brittany Luse)

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 23, 2021 41:46

This week we are having a blast feeling really sad. Guest Brittany Luse, cohost of the acclaimed podcast For Colored Nerds, joins Nate and Charlie to dig into this fall's slate of breathtaking breakup albums from Adele, Kacey Musgraves, Summer Walker, and Mitski. Some have been calling this confluence of releases, "sad girl autumn," but the melancholy moment goes beyond gender, with even Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak's leaning into the lachrymose on their album An Evening With Silk Sonic. On top of all this, Taylor Swift has stormed the charts with her re-recording of her hit album Red and the ten-minute version of fan-favorite breakup song "All Too Well." We take the opportunity to mine this gold rush of emotions and diagnose every type of heartbreak on the radio dial. Songs discussed: Taylor Swift - All Too Well (Taylor's Version) Summer Walker - Throw it Away Silk Sonic - Put On a Smile Adele - Easy On Me Mitski - The Only Heartbreaker Kacey Musgraves - Justified More Listen to Brittany's podcast For Colored Nerds Watch Guy Winch's talk How To Fix a Broken Heart Weep along to our playlist of breakup albums Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Snotty Nose Rez Kids on hip hop and Indigenous protest

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 16, 2021 26:42

Merging hip hop and Indigenous culture, rap duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids are creating a sound that goes hard for a cause. On tracks like “War Club” with DJ Shub, Young Tribz and Yung D connect Indigenous protests to the Black Lives Matter movement, and on “Boujee Natives,” Snotty Nose Rez Kids celebrate traditional culture through a modern lens. But as much as this music has a message, it also bangs, and SNRK's new album After Life runs the gamut of emotions; from tackling police brutality on “Red Sky at Night” to celebrating their community on “Wild Boy.” Their first tour since COVID brought them to Los Angeles, where Nate talked to the band repping the Haisla Nation about pipeline protests, reclaiming the term “savage,” and how the hell the Disney movie Pocahontas ever got greenlit. Songs Discussed Snotty Nose Rez Kids - Red Sky At Night, War Club, Creator Made An Animal, Sink or Swim, Boujee Natives, Wild Boy, Northern Lights, Something Else Megan Thee Stallion - Savage Jay Z and Kanye West - Otis Kendrick Lamar - Alright Check out a playlist of our favorite SNRK tracks Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

The State of the Pop Union

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 9, 2021 35:42

From time to time, it is our constitutional duty to provide an update to the people on the current state of pop. What are the sounds? Who's making the hits? What are they singing about? We take the musical temperature by consulting the charts, the platforms, and the people. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Why ABBA songs just hit different

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2021 34:50

Swedish supergroup ABBA is releasing their first album in forty years, making this the perfect time for Nate and Charlie to investigate what makes their music so beloved and reviled in equal measure. For every ABBA stan, there's a hater lurking, like legendary pop critic Robert Christgau, who once said of the group: “We have met the enemy, and they are them.” That suspicion was earned through ABBA's musical catchiness and lyrical earnestness, but regardless of how you feel about their music, their compositional acumen cannot be denied. The longevity of their songs is testament to that musical brilliance. So after breaking down the vocal contrast, musical maximalism, and studio wizardry used to concoct world-beating hits like “Super Trouper,” “Mamma Mia,” and “Dancing Queen,” Nate and Charlie turn their ears to the band's latest singles, “Don't Shut Me Down” and “I Still Have Faith in You,” to determine whether the newest releases represent a return to classic form or a departure into new sonic realms. Songs Discussed ABBA - Super Trouper, Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, Don't Shut Me Down, I Still Have Faith in You Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

The Healing Power of Pop with Esperanza Spalding

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 26, 2021 35:27

It's. been. a year. We've felt it, you've felt it. Sometimes it's comforting to consider how universally-shared that overwhelming sense of blah is. Other days, woof - it can be tough to see the light. That's the subject of today's episode, brought to you by our producer Megan Lubin. When Megan hit an especially low point earlier this year, she noticed something in the music she was listening to - uber popular artists making explicit references to the state of their mental health, and the things they do to cope with it. It made her want to know more about the impact of these song lyrics. So, she dug around, and found an academic who studies that very thing. Alex Kresovich is a PhD candidate at the University of North Carolina Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and the author of numerous studies on the subject of mental health and popular music. In today's episode, we walk through one of those studies with him, and learn how influential lyrical content can be - even when you're not paying super close attention to those lyrics, or the artist singing them. Alex's study, and ones like it, open up the possibility that pop artists are an undervalued, underestimated asset when it comes to messaging on the subject of mental health. “People like to point at pop music as a source of problems, not a source of solutions,” he says. Alex sees his job as guiding the scientific community towards new data that could change how we understand the value of pop music lyrics - “laying the railroad ties” as he puts it.  In the second half of today's episode, we talk to a beloved artist who's taken the concept of music-as-medicine to a whole new level. Over the course of her career, Esperanza Spalding has re-imagined the music-making process - from one designed to meet her label's commercial needs, to one designed to meet the mental health needs of her immediate community. With her new album Songwrights Apothecary Lab, Spalding offers up a collection of antidotes to a wide variety of emotional woes. There are songs for “releasing the heaviness of a seemingly endless blue state,” for “steadying the vast-spinning ‘potential hurt' analysis triggered by the bliss of new romance” and for “slowing down and remembering to make space/time for your elders.” “They're little musical formulas,” says Spalding,”to prompt or initiate or invite a particular effect in the body or in the experience and the perception of the listener.” Spalding made clear that this way of making “musicking” is nothing new - “It's like the oldest thing ever….we're playing with the origin of music. The origin of music being: a response to others in your community, in your surroundings. And the response is intuitive! When you hum for a baby or when you're sitting with somebody who is grieving and you, you feel compelled to hum, or when you're excited and go, ‘wow!,' that's music!” Spalding's view of music these days opened our eyes wide to the true healing power of individual songs, and just how accessible music is when we need it.  Songs Discussed girl in red - Serotonin Billie Eilish - Getting Older Julia Michaels ft. Selena Gomez - Anxiety J. Cole ft. kiLL edward - FRIENDS Lil Nas X - VOID Kehlani - 24/7 Kendrick Lamar - u Juice WRLD - Lucid Dreams Panic! At the Disco - King of the Clouds Shawn Mendes - In My Blood Ariana Grande - breathin Logic, Alessia Cara, Khalid - 1-800-273-8255 Billie Eilish ft. Khalid - lovely Lil Uzi Vert - XO Tour Llif3 Esperanza Spalding - Formwela 3 Esperanza Spalding - Formwela 6 Esperanza Spalding - Formwela 10 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Janet Jackson's Legacy After 'Control' from It's Been A Minute with Sam Sanders

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 22, 2021 46:21

Sam Sanders is one of our favorite friends of the podcast. His NPR show, It's Been A Minute, has released an outstanding three part series exploring crossover in pop music. We want to share with you the 2nd episode form that series on the legacy of Janet Jackson. From It's Been A Minute On the 35th anniversary of Janet Jackson's first No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit, we look back at Control, her career-defining album that changed the trajectory of pop music in the late '80s and '90s. In the second episode of a three-part series exploring crossover in pop music, we look at Jackson's musical and cultural legacy over the years. We also reconsider how Jackson was vilified after her Super Bowl XXXVIII appearance, and why. Episode art by Blake Cale for NPR All episodes in the series There Was Nothing Like 'Soul Train' On TV. There's Never Been Anything Like It Since Janet Jackson Once Had 'Control' of the Charts. We Don't Give Her Enough Credit 1999's 'Latin Explosion' chased crossover hits. Today, Latino artists don't need them Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

James Bond's Spycraft Sound

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 19, 2021 34:53

The latest installment of the James Bond franchise, No Time To Die, closes the book on the Daniel Craig era of the international superspy. The film's theme song, “No Time to Die,” by Billie Eilish, Finneas, and Hans Zimmer, also marks the conclusion of one of the great musical sagas in recent cinema. Monty Norman's and John Barry's now-iconic “James Bond Theme,” written for 1962's Dr. No, has remained a constant across six decades of espionage and one-liners. But every new Bond theme has also developed subtle variations on the original that reflect the character's changes over time. On this episode of Switched On Pop, we uncover what inspired the theme, how it's changed, and why it almost never happened. FURTHER JAMES BOND THEME READING The James Bond Songs: Pop Anthems of Late Capitalism by Adrian Daub and Charles Kronengold The Music of James Bond - Jon Burlingame Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

James Blake & The Return of Harmony

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2021 39:50

For a decade James Blake has crafted an idiosyncratic sound. His early work as a minimalist electronic producer fused lush R&B chords with lyrical collage and unfiltered synthesizers. He describes his hit 2013 song “Retrograde” as apocalyptic yet also romantic. This single was in stark contrast to the bubblegum pop of the early 2010s. But other artists recruited him to spread his subversive sonics. He produced on three of the most seminal albums in recent history: Beyoncé's Lemonade, Kendrick Lamar's DAMN and Frank Ocean's Blonde. Before Blake, it sounded like pop was caught in the same four chord loop. But gradually Blake's vision of harmonic melancholy has infused popular music. On his new album “Friends That Break Your Heart,” Blake has written his most compelling songs yet, but underneath are those his familiar wandering chords and emotional suspense. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Sparkle spoke out against R Kelly. It cost her her career.

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 7, 2021 31:03

On this week's episode we're sharing a story fromThe Cut where senior writer Angelina Chapin and co-host Jazmín Aguilera talk about and talk with Sparkle (born Stephanie Edwards), who first reported R. Kelly to the police for allegedly sexually abusing her 14-year-old niece. Back then, no one believed her, but following the explosive documentary Surviving R. Kelly and the R&B artist's trial, at the end of which he was found guilty of nine federal sex crimes, she's been vindicated. Angelina spoke with Sparkle a few times during and after R. Kelly's most recent trial to hear about the monumental costs she has paid for coming forward. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

ICYMI: The Mystery of Montero AKA Lil Nas X (feat. Take A Daytrip)

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 28, 2021 35:59

Lil Nas X has a talent for creating productive controversy. First with “Old Town Road,” he challenged expectations about blackness in country music. Now with “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” he takes aim at anti LGBTQ+ messages propagated by the religious dogma from his youth (he came out as gay during Pride 2019). The song describes a romantic encounter without innuendo. Sure it's raunchy, but the song doesn't especially stand out on Billboard where explicit sexual fantasy is commonplace. But his use of religious iconography in his video and merchandise created an immediate backlash. In the video to “Montero,” Lil Nas X rides a stripped pole into hades where he gives a lap dance to Satan (also played by Lil Nas X). Despite the obvious commentary on repressive orthodoxy, religious conservatives failed to see the subtext. The song became a lightning rod. But as pundits fought on social media about the song's meaning, most critics failed to look into the song's musical references. Produced by Take A Daytrip, the duo behind Shek Wes' “Mo Bamba” and Lil Nas X's “Panini,” “Montero'' mashes up genres that take the listener on a global journey, sharing his message of acceptance across cultures. Music Lil Nas X — Montero, Old Town Road, Panini 24kGoldn, iann dior - Mood Dick Dale and his Del-Tones - Misirlou Tetos Demetriades - Misirlou Aris San Boom Pam Silsulim - Static & Ben El Shek Was — Mo Bamba Lehakat Tzliley Haud Bouzouki recording from xserra from FreeSound under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License More Listen to Gal Kadan's project: Awesome Orientalists From Europa on Bandcamp Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Deja Vu: Why Olivia Rodrigo keeps giving up songwriting credits

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 21, 2021 60:35


In the last few years music copyright claims have skyrocketed. More and more artists are giving songwriting credits away. Frequently, credits are given retroactively to avoid the cost of long jury trials like when Sam Smith credited Tom Petty. Smith's melody for “Stay With Me” clearly drew from Petty's “I Won't Back Down.” On rare occasions these cases go to court, where music litigation is at an all time high. In the last ten years there have been 190 public cases, up over 350% from the prior decade, according to The George Washington University & Columbia Law School Music Copyright Infringement Resource. This story has come in and out of the news cycle in closely watched jury trials including artists like Marvin Gaye, Led Zeppelin, and Katie Perry. Historically, courts have extended copyright to only unique combinations of words and music, not rhythms, chords, instruments. But recent cases increasingly litigate the core building blocks of music. Many artists fear that a bad court outcome could let an artist copyright a “vibe” using commonly used musical language.   The question of whether someone can borrow a vibe resurfaced when Olivia Rodrigo shared songwriting credits on her hit 2021 album Sour with Taylor Swift, and comparisons have been made to the art of Courtney Love and music of Elvis Costello. Many listeners have commented on Rodrigo's more obvious influences on social media. Viral TikTok videos compared Rodrigo's “Good 4 U” to Paramore's “Misery Business,” which share a common chord progression and vibe. This online campaign likely contributed to Rodrigo handing songwriting credits, also known as publishing, to Hayley Williams and Josh Farro of the band Paramore.  This week we are airing the conversation Switched On Pop's Charlie Harding had on the podcast Decoder with host Nilay Patel who is also editor and chief of The Verge. Together we try to understand how the byzantine music copyright system works, and how its rules affect the sound of pop music today and in the future.  SONGS DISCUSSED - Spotify Playlist Sam Smith - Stay With Me Tom Petty - I Won't Back Down  M.I.A. - Paper Planes The Clash - Straight To Hell Olivia Rodrigo - deja vu Taylor Swift - Cruel Summer Olivia Rodrigo - good 4 u Paramore - Misery Business Robin Thick, T.I., Pharrell Williams - Blurred Lines Marvin Gaye - Got To Give It Up Katy Perry, Juicy J - Dark Horse FLAME , Lecrae, John Reilly - Joyful Noise Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven Spirit - Taurus Michael Bolton - Love Is a Wonderful Thing The Isley Brothers - Love Is A Wonderful Thing Taylor Swift - Look What You Made Me Do Right Said Fred - I'm Too Sexy Doja Cat, SZA - Kiss Me More Olivia Newton-John - Physical Anne-Marie - 2002 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices


CHVRCHES and the sound of 80s horror

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 14, 2021 33:38

CHVRCHES is well-known for their comprehensive use of synthesizers and their updated take on “synthpop”, a subgenre of pop we most closely associated with the 1980s. While gearing up to make their second album in 2015, CHVRCHES members Iain Cook and Martin Doherty spent much of the recording budget buying up many of the original synthesizers used to make those iconic 80s dance tracks. Contemporary replicas of those synth sounds are now commonplace with pop acts like Dua Lipa and The Weeknd. But CHVRCHES has been wielding these sounds for more than a decade, and their newest project is a great reminder of how closely we link that synth sound with not just to a bygone era, but specifically to the eerie sound of horror film.  Screen Violence is their new album. It draws inspiration from classic horror films like John Carpenter's Halloween. With its horror frame, the lyrics explore dark themes, like the violent online abuse CHVRCHES lead singer Lauren Mayberry has endured for much of the band's existence, a hyper consciousness of her own mortality brought on by that abuse, and fears of losing her grip on reality. Switched On Pop's co-host Charlie Harding spoke with Lauren, Ian, Martin from CHVRCHES about the making and meaning of Screen Violence. MORE Chvrches' Lauren Mayberry: 'I will not accept online misogyny' Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

From Taylor Swift to Bon Iver, Aaron Dessner Finds Meaning in Musical Community

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 7, 2021 27:01

On August 27th Big Red Machine, the joint musical project of Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner - artists known for their work as Bon Iver and in the rock band The National, respectively - returned with new music. You've most definitely heard Dessner's production work elsewhere, like on Taylor Swift's pandemic albums evermore and folklore. The Big Red Machine album, titled How Long Do You Think it's Going to Last, celebrates the fruits of creative partnership and the importance of family and community. At least, that's what we took from our conversation with Dessner. “A lot of my favorite music - usually there's something elusive about it, in that whatever is elusive is coming from this weird cocktail of different people's input. There's just this weird, swampy alchemy, and you can't easily put your finger on why it's so moving.”  Dessner told us he draws much of his creative inspiration from the kinetic energy generated by multiple musical brains working in tandem, which makes sense given the list of features on this album - everyone from Swift to Sharon van Etten to Anaïs Mitchell to The Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold. “I'm such a born collaborator. I'm definitely interested in this exchange where you make something and you send it out into the ether and then it comes back slightly changed or radically changed. Then you work on it and send it again. I like this handoff, this communal approach to music making.” The musical collective fostered by Vernon and Dessner on How Long Do You Think It's Going to Last is a testament to the power of musical communities in a year of intense isolation. We're so pleased to bring you Nate's conversation with Aaron Dessner in this week's episode. Songs Discussed Big Red Machine - Birch, feat. Taylor Swift Big Red Machine - Phoenix, feat. Fleet Foxes & Anaïs Mitchell Big Red Machine - Magnolia Big Red Machine - Renegade, feat. Taylor Swift Big Red Machine - Mimi, feat. Ilsey Big Red Machine - The Ghost of Cincinnati Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Modern Classics: Carina Del Valle Schorske on Cat Power's "Manhattan"

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 31, 2021 29:51

Recently the hosts of Switched on Pop kept seeing the same byline next to their favorite pieces of music writing. A moving profile of Bad Bunny? There was the name. A searing critique of West Side Story? There it was again. An elegy on love, loss, and an Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson duet? By now it was committed to memory: writer and translator Carina Del Valle Schorske. So we knew we had to invite Carina to participate in our Modern Classics series and learn what this brilliant writer would place in her modern pop pantheon.  Carina's pick, the 2012 song “Manhattan” by Cat Power, presents an opportunity to analyze an artist we've never discussed on the show before, and a song that sparks associations with New York City's rich musical history. Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall, released “Manhattan” on her 2012 album Sun, and the song—on which Marshall recorded every instrument herself—has become an unlikely sleeper hit in the Cat Power catalog. Perhaps that's because, as Carina tells it, the song is a celebration and elegy at once, trying to capture the beat of a city that is constantly in flux, but with an inescapable iconicity.  “Manhattan” isn't the only piece of urban musical alchemy Carina brought to the show. Cat Power's ode to the borough syncs up in surprising ways with the 1978 salsa track by Willie Colón and Rúben Blades, “Buscando Guayaba.” Together, the songs stake out a twisting path across genre, time, and language, but along on the same streets. Songs Discussed Cat Power - Manhattan Rubén Blades and Willie Colón - Buscando Guayaba, Pedro Navaja Ella Fitzgerald - Manhattan Stevie Wonder - Livin' for the City Alicia Keys and Jay Z - Empire State of Mind Check out Carina's profile of Bad Bunny, her essay on Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson, and more writing at her website. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

The Joy of Music Festivals

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 24, 2021 27:12

For the past two weeks, our series on summer music festivals has uncovered the interplay of festival fashion and music and examined festival subcultures. But we've so far overlooked an essential reason that people attend music festivals: to experience transformational joy. At the start of summer 2021 it seemed like the pandemic was waning and that live music was coming back. But now, heading into the fall with the Delta variant, the fate of live music is once again in question. Caught in this limbo, we thought it might be a good time to get nostalgic and reflect on joyous music festival moments as we hope for more live music in the future.  This week's episode features seven stories from listeners about their most surprising and wonderful moments at festivals past. The first story comes from musician and producer Dave Harrington of the band Darkside, who was once helped out of a musical rut by a Phish festival set Songs Phish (live Aug 4, 2017) - Everything In Its Right Place, Axis Bold As Love, Prince Caspian Darkside - Only Young Music scored by Zach Tenorio of Arc Iris Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

The Beauty and Horror of Insane Clown Posse's Summer Festival

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 17, 2021 39:37

The Gathering of the Juggalos is the music festival centered around the rap duo Insane Clown Posse. Their songs are hyper-violent and profane; their stage show features grotesque clown makeup and blasting the audience with their favorite drink, Faygo soda; and their fandom has even been designated by the FBI as a loosely organized gang. Musically, they've historically been rejected by critics: The Guardian has called them “a magnet for ignorance;” Allmusic has called them a “third rate Beastie Boys,” and Blender called them “the worst band in music.” Nate became fascinated with them after watching the 2011 documentary American Juggalo — that's when he realized that there's more to Insane Clown Posse and its fans than he previously thought.  For the second episode of our summer festival series, we dig into the sound of Insane Clown Posse to ask: Is their music really as bad and offensive as all the critics say? What is the general public missing that ICP's fans are hearing? To answer these questions, we talk to Nathan Rabin, the author of You Don't Know Me but You Don't Like Me: Phish, Insane Clown Posse, and My Misadventures with Two of Music's Most Maligned Tribes, and 7 Days In Ohio: Trump, the Gathering of the Juggalos and The Summer Everything Went Insane. Songs Discussed •Insane Clown Posse - House of Horrors, Hokus Pokus, My Axes, F*** the World, Miracles, Down with the Clown •Esham - The Wicketshit Will Never Die •Eminem - Stay Wide Awake More •Check out more of Nathan Rabin's writing Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Summer Festivals: How Coachella co-opted the Woodstock look

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 10, 2021 26:02

The co-hosts of The Cut, Jazmin Aguilera and B.A. Parker, think deeply and incisively about fashion. For this special episode of Switched on Pop — the first in our three-part miniseries about summer festivals — we invited the hosts of The Cut, Jazmin Aguilera and B.A. Parker, as our honorary co-hosts to help us break down the connections between festival fashion, music, and culture. With the additional help of Dr. Lorynn Divita, Associate Professor of Apparel Merchandising at Baylor University, we dissect the commercialization of festival fashion, and how it could lead to some festival goers feeling alienated from the musical experience they love. And, of course, we all discuss the iconic looks -- and performances -- of two of the most quintessential music festivals: Woodstock and Coachella. MORE 3 Days of Peace & Music & Fashion : A History of Festival Dress from Woodstock to Coachella Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Modern Classics: Mark Ronson on Ginuwine's "Pony"

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 3, 2021 38:44


Mark Ronson has a CV too long to list here. Suffice to say he's a musician who's worked with everyone from Amy Winehouse to Lady Gaga to Dua Lipa, has one of the highest selling singles of all time with Bruno Mars in “Uptown Funk,” and has been making just really good music since the turn of the millennium. He's also the presenter of one of our all time favorite TED talks on the history of sampling, and he's been continuing that journey of musical curiosity with the Apple TV show “Watch The Sound,” which explores the untold stories behind music creation and the lengths producers and creators are willing to go to find the perfect sound, and the FADER Uncovered Podcast, where he interviews artists ranging from David Byrne to HAIM. Today, Mark is the guest for another episode of Modern Classics, in which he brings Ginuwine's classic 90s jam “Pony,” produced by Timbaland and Static Major, as an example of the ways that innovation and radical experimentation undergird even the biggest of pop smashes.  Songs Discussed Ginuwine - Pony Rakim - Juice (Know the Ledge) Mobb Deep - Shook Ones Part II Notorious B.I.G. - Juicy Aaliyah - Are You That Somebody? 10cc - I'm Not in Love Shangri-Las - Remember (Walkin' in the Sand) Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson - Valerie Paul McCartney - Get Enough Usher - Climax Beatles - Maxwell's Silver Hammer Stevie Wonder - You Are the Sunshine of My Life Cher - Believe Gang Starr - Work Nikka Costa - Like a Feather Stevie Wonder - Superstition Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices


Summer Hits: Jack Antonoff on Bleachers “Stop Making This Hurt”

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 30, 2021 41:33

We've been wanting to speak with Jack Antonoff since we started Switched On Pop back in 2014. We've had countless hours of conversation sound tracked to his productions with artists like Taylor Swift, Lorde, Lana Del Ray starting in just our second episode. When we wrote a book about 21st century pop, we devoted a chapter to the song “We Are Young” by his band, Fun.   And so we're excited to finally sit down with him to hear about how he approaches his own work. He has a new album out with his band Bleachers called Take the Sadness out of Saturday Night. And for our series on Summer Hits, we wanted to start our conversation with Jack Antonoff about the song “Stop Making this Hurt.” Songs Discussed Bleachers - Chinatown (feat. Bruce Springsteen) Bleachers - How Dare You Want More Bleachers - Secret Life Bleachers - Stop Making This Hurt Bleachers - What'd I Do With All This Faith? Bruce Springsteen - Jungleland Dexys Midnight Runners - Come On Eileen Fleetwood Mac - Bleed to Love Her (Live at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, CA 52397) Fleetwood Mac - Bleed to Love Her Lana Del Rey - Mariners Apartment Complex Television - 1880 Or So The Strokes - New York City Cops Tom Tom Club - Genius of Love Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Modern Classics: Yola on Childish Gambino's “Redbone” and the Longevity of Soul

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 27, 2021 33:18

In this installment of Modern Classics we speak to the amazing four-time Grammy Nominee musician, singer and songwriter Yola about her new record, Stand For Myself, and how hearing Childish Gambino's “Redbone” and all its references to 1970s funk encouraged Yola to unlock her own unprecedented mix of symphonic soul and classic pop. As Yola tells it, it's not just a sound from the past that she's conjuring, it's a sense of possibility. The way that progenitors like Funkadelic, Minnie Ripperton, and the O'Jays combined political protest with deep grooves, what Yola calls “the Mary Poppins philosophy of music” (the groove being the spoonful of sugar to help the socially-conscious medicine go down). With this marriage of sound and statement, Yola makes retro sounds relevant again, as on the title track “Stand For Myself,” where she uses throwback slap bass, fuzz guitar, and orchestral strings to craft a distinctly modern messages about her identity as a Black woman, cultural allyship, and UK politics. Also, why she likes mixes that sound like they have a “big old booty.” Songs Discussed Yola - Stand For Myself, Diamond Studded Shoes, Starlight, Barely Alive, Be My Friend, If I Had to Do it All Again Childish Gambino - Redbone, Riot Bootsy Collins - I'd Rather Be With You Funkadelic - Can You Get to That The O'Jays - Back Stabbers Queen Latifah - U.N.I.T.Y. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

L'Rain asks “what have you done to change?” (live at JBL)

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 23, 2021 26:12

L'Rain is the musical persona of the singer and multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheek. Her new album Fatigue begins with a lyrical quandary: “what have you done to change?” The music that follows takes us on a journey of self discovery with songs interwoven with home recordings of practicing piano, clapping games, and everyday life. The first full length song “Find It” repeats the mantra “make a way out of no way,” looking for a pathway out of darkness. An unexpected sample of a preacher at a friend's funeral service — recorded with permission by L'Rain — interrupts the futile chant promising that “good days outweigh my bad days.” But L'Rain doesn't provide quick solutions for making change. Rather, she takes us on a journey that evades easy understanding.  By avoiding conventional structures, L'Rain asks the listener to lean in close to the music. The sounds are at times unsettling. On “Blame Me” the guitar is nauseating, warbling in and out of tune. But the uncomfortable moments are blanketed over on songs like “Take Two” where warm synthesizers mix with angelic voices. Moments of melodic hooks and captivating rhythms on “Suck Teeth” reveal L'Rain's command over the experimental work — she is meticulous about building layers of sound on her many instruments.  Had L'Rain pursued a more traditionalist style of songwriting, or further fleshed out Fatigue's catchiest moments, the record might be an easier listen, but not as rewarding. The album's unduating moods and non-linearity mirror the unpredictability of human emotion, and the up and down nature of personal change. To help decipher this album, Switched On Pop's Charlie Harding spoke with L'Rain at JBL's flagship store in SoHo in front of a live audience. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Summer Hits: City Girls - Twerkulator (with Kyra Gaunt)

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 20, 2021 24:25

One of the songs we anticipate playing on repeat this summer is “Twerkulator” by Miami rap duo City Girls. It's a track with enough sonic energy to power a small town, but that's not all we dig. The song's music includes a chain of samples that stretch back through pop music history—from 1990s house, to 1980s electro, to 1970s German krautrock—and poses an implicit challenge to some of hip hop's most problematic figures. Meanwhile, the lyrics celebrate a tradition of movement that's as culturally important as its controversial To break down the manifold cultural dimensions of twerking we welcome a very special guest: Kyra Gaunt, ethnomusicolgist and author of the forthcoming book “Twerking at the Intersection of Music, Sexual Violence, and Patriarchy on YouTube,” who explains why twerking is not what you think it is (and why the Oxford English Dictionary got it wrong). Songs Discussed City Girls - Twerkulator, Twerk (featuring Cardi B) Cajmere - Percolator Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force - Planet Rock Kraftwerk - Numbers, Trans-Europe Express Juicy J featuring A$AP Rocky - Scholarship More Dr. Kyra Gaunt's TED Talk and her brilliant book, The Games Black Girls Play Estelle Caswell's Video, "The Sound that Connects Stravinsky to Bruno Mars" Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Summer Hits: Lorde - Solar Power (w Hanif Abdurraqib)

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 16, 2021 31:05

Lorde's new song "Solar Power" set the internet ablaze when it dropped from out of nowhere in June. Some fans found the song to be a buoyant departure from Lorde's last release, Melancholy, while others thought the track felt half-baked. On top of that, listeners questioned the song's provenance — had Lorde cribbed too closely from 90s hitmakers like Primal Scream and George Michael? To listen closely to "Solar Power" and unpack its polarizing sounds, we needed to speak to someone with an unerring ear and a razor-sharp mind: the author, poet, and host of Object of Sound, Hanif Abdurraqib. Hanif knows Lorde's catalog like the back of his hand, and he's got feelings about this latest release. But he also offers a word of caution: wait for the album before reserving judgment! Hanif doesn't just take us deep into "Solar Power," though, he helps us get philosophical on some trenchant musical questions, including: What is a summer song, anyway? Where's the line between stealing and inspiration? And most importantly, does Lorde's track end six minutes too early?? Songs Discussed: Lorde - Solar Power, Royals, Liability, Green Light, The Louvre Nick Drake - Bryter Layter Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the Devil Roxy Music - In Every Dream Home a Heartache Primal Scream - Loaded George Michael - Freedom! '90, Faith Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley More Check out Hanif Abdurraqib's podcast Object of Sound Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Summer Hits: Olivia Rodrigo - good 4 u (with Jessica Hopper)

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 13, 2021 35:01

Olivia Rodrigo's summer breakup anthem “good 4 u” is filled with the kind of ebullient angst that makes us want to spontaneously dance around our house and belt the lyrics out with abandon. Whether it's the creeping baseline that pulls us in, or the cathartic release of the chorus, we can't get enough of this track. And we're not alone, it seems. The song debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and like its predecessor “Driver's License,” has fueled and been fueled by viral TikTok memes that helped solidify the song's position among 2021's summer jams.  Those TikTok memes range in format, but tend to play off of one unavoidable observable of Rodrigo's “good 4 u” - just how beautifully it syncs up with Paramore's 2007 pop-punk “Misery Business.” The two songs share some of the most common building blocks in pop music, from their 4, 1, 5, 6, chord progression to the opening note of their choruses. Those links have led critics and fans alike to wonder aloud if “good 4 u” indicates the emo-slash-pop punk revival we discussed back in May is here to stay.  In the second installment of our Summer Hits series, producer Megan Lubin goes searching for the musical roots of Rodrigo's ebullient angst, and uncovers two histories - the first is the sound of emo as it branched off of punk music in the 1980s, and the second is of women raging on the microphone through time, from the blues to country, to Olivia's chart-topping confessional.  Lubin gets help from the rock critic Jessica Hopper, who reminds us of emo's gendered origins: “It became prescriptive. The narrative was always girls were bad and they never had names” and takes us on a journey through Rodrigo's rage-full forebears. We're still thinking about her lines about women in pop and the boxes we try to put them in. “People just need to stop trying to draw it back to something that a man did before, and realize that teenage women have completely remade the landscape of top 40 pop in the last 15 years.” More: Jessica Hopper's The First Collection Of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic Helen Reddington “The Forgotten Revolution of Female Punk Musicians in the 1970s” nikjaay's “misery 4 u” mashup Music Olivia Rodrigo - good 4 u Paramore - Misery Business Sex Pistols - Anarchy in the U.K. The Clash - London Calling Minor Threat - Straight Edge Rites of Spring - Drink Deep Dashboard Confessional - Screaming Infidelities Bessie Smith - Devil's Gonna Git You Nina Simone - Break Down and Let it All Out Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know Miranda Lambert - Mama's Broken Heart Carrie Underwood - Before He Cheats Taylor Swift - We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Modern Classics: Labrinth's "Sexy MF" (with Sam Sanders)

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 6, 2021 30:21


Modern Classics is the new series where Charlie and Nate invite their favorite musicians, journalists, and friends of the show to wax lyrical about a song that's important in their life. In the first installment of Modern Classics, Nate and Charlie sit down with the host of NPR's hit news and culture program It's Been a Minute, Sam Sanders. Sam is one of the best people to talk music with, not only because he has his finger on the pulse of what's happening in the entertainment world, but because as a former music major he's got knowledge for days. That knowledge makes Sam the perfect person to explain why Labrinth's 2019 track “Sexy MF” might be one of the hidden gems of contemporary pop, a song that he hears as “fun and fantastical with all these wonderful tricks and bells and whistles.” Nate and Charlie had never heard “Sexy MF” before Sam brought it to them, and were immediately hooked by the song's copious ear candy: sly references to Prince and James Brown, death-defying vocal harmonies, all scaffolded atop an indomitable piano groove. Labrinth, aka Timothy Lee McKenzie, is a U.K. singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer who released his first single in 2010. Since then he's gone on to compose the score for the hit TV show Euphoria, collaborated with Sia and Diplo as L.S.D., and worked with Beyoncé on the live-action Lion King soundtrack. Labrinth has racked up massive streaming numbers with tracks like “Jealous” and “Thunderclouds,” but “Sexy MF” is more of what one might call a “deep cut.” If you haven't heard it yet, like Sam, you might find that it's one you'll play “perhaps a thousand times” after your first listen. Songs discussed Labrinth - Sexy MF, Still Don't Know my Name, Mount Everest, Misbehaving Prince - Sexy M.F. James Brown - Get Up (I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine) Lauryn Hill - Doo Wop (That Thing) Paul Anka - Put Your Head on my Shoulder Beach Boys - God Only Knows Harry Nilsson - Gotta Get Up Foreigner - Cold As Ice Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg - Still D.R.E. Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices


Growing Pains with Lucy Dacus

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 2, 2021 32:03

Growing up is never easy. But pop songs about adolescence too often gloss over the complicated moments. The “teenage dream” archetype is just a pop culture fantasy. And no one really wants to be 17 forever.  On her new album “Home Video,” Lucy Dacus talks about youthful growing pains. She remembers the uncomfortable moments. Dacus says that “a lot of childhood is crisis mode… you get pushed around by the world and the rules that are set for you.” Her songs examine unequal power relationships between parents and friends and lovers.  On the lighter side, the album opens up with “Hot And Heavy,” which takes us back to the scene of an early romantic encounter on a basement sofa, red faced and awkward. But by the next song, “Christine,” the amorous feelings fade: “He can be nice, sometimes / Other nights, you admit he's not what you had in mind.” Bad dads, bible camp indoctrination, and perpetual peer pressure all take the stage in Dacus' coming of age album.  Dacus says that writing about those years is “a process of extorting control over things that I didn't have control over at the time.” With untethered teenage dreams safely behind her, Dacus now gets to reclaim the meaning of youth: “I am the narrator of my own life so I get to say what this meant.” Songs Discussed Lucy Dacus - Night Shift Frank Zappa - Sharleena boygenius - Souvenir Lukas Graham - 7 Years Kendrick Lamar - Beyonce Justin Bieber - Baby Mandy Moore - Fifteen Hilary Duff - Sweet Sixteen The Beatles - When I'm Sixty Four ABBA - Dancing Queen Sound of Music - Sixteen Going On Seventeen Avril Lavigne - 17 Kings Of Leon - 17 Lake Street Dive - Seventeen Sharon Van Etten - Seventeen Alessia Cara - Seventeen Stevie Nicks - Edge of Seventeen Janis Ian - At Seventeen More Playlist of coming of age songs  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Summer Hits: BTS - Butter (with Jenna Andrews)

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 29, 2021 36:10

In summer 2020, BTS released “Dynamite,” their first single recorded entirely in English. The song shot up the charts, became one of the most successful YouTube videos in history, and won over pop radio, which had stubbornly refused to play their songs in Korean. Now in summer 2021, BTS have topped themselves again with “Butter,” yet another English language bop that melts… like butter. BTS member Jimin told Variety that they wanted to make an “easy-listening,” fun song, and it arrived as a much-needed distraction from the slow-burn global pandemic.  Constrained by ongoing travel restrictions, the song was written over WhatsApp, a collaboration done via text and voice notes sent between South Korea and North America. Jenna Andrews, one of the songwriters, says that the song went through at least 50 rewrites to reach perfection. The final single is a tightly produced, less than three-minute song where every moment is a hook. The song shifts nostalgically from 80s Prince, to 90s Michael Jackson, though 2000's EDM, each second highlighting BTS's musical savvy and distinctive vocal performance.  In our kick off episode of our Summer Hits series, songwriter Jenna Andrews spoke with Switched On Pop about how she worked with BTS to craft this song remotely and map out every throwback reference. In the second half of the episode, we speak with Bora, a prominent BTS translator who presents the case for why we should hear “Butter” as the first step down the BTS rabbit hole, especially into their Korean language discovery.  Songs Discussed BTS - Butter, Dynamite, Silver Spoon, Dope, Dis-ease Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal, Rock With You, Man In The Mirror, Remember The Time, Bad  Usher - “U Got It Bad” Daft Punk - Harder Better Faster Stronger More Bora's BTS Rabbit Hold Playlist ARMY translators' lyric translations:  doolset lyrics – BTS Lyrics in English BTS TRANSLATIONS – (do you, bangtan / do you bangtan?) Lyrics — BTS-TRANS/BANGTANSUBS Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Pop's Worst Kept Secret ft. Emily Warren

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 22, 2021 28:33


In 1974 country music, singer songwriter, Dolly Parton got wind that Elvis Presley wanted to record her new song, “I Will Always Love You.“ According to Dolly, the deal fell through when Elvis's manager demanded 50% of the publishing revenue. Dolly refused, released the song herself, and years later arranged a more equitable deal with Whitney Houston, who of course made it a massive hit.  It's a juicy bit of industry history that actually speaks more to our current reality than you might think. What Elvis's management did, demand a cut of the publishing revenue on top of the money he'd already make from album sales and live shows, is not an anomaly.  Songwriter, Emily Warren knows this all too well. Emily's a songwriter and performer in Los Angeles. You've heard her on the show before in part, because she's written some huge hits, including Dua Lipa's “New Rules” and The Chainsmokers “Don't Let Me Down.”  What happened to Dolly in ‘74 has happened a lot to Emily. She says that countless times, after an artist decides to record a song of hers that she wrote without any involvement with the artist, she'll get an email from the artist's management team, asking for a cut of her publishing. She says the emails are polite, but the mask and implied arrangement: give us a cut of the publishing they say, or we won't put out the song.  So Emily's started talking to other established songwriters she knows, Tayla Parx, Ross Golan, Justin Tranter, and Savan Kotecha—they've all been asked to give up publishing. Together they decided they wanted to do something about this practice. So they formed an organization called The Pact, a group of music professionals who refuse to give publishing away for songs where artists do not contribute. Their goal is to make the music business more equitable for the creative laborers. Songs Discussed Dolly Parton - I Will Always Love You Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You Dua Lipa - New Rules The Chainsmokers - Don't Let Me Down Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices


40 Years Later, Japanese City Pop is Still Crashing the Charts (with Cat Zhang)

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 15, 2021 31:06

If you listen to a lot of music on YouTube, you may have been recommended a video. The thumbnail image is a striking black-and-white photo of a Japanese singer named Mariya Takeuchi. The song, “Plastic Love,” is a lush disco track with deep groove, impeccable string and horn arrangements, and a slow-burn vocal performance from Takeuchi. When the song was released in 1979, it sold 10,000 copies. Today, it's racked up over 65 million views since its posting in 2017.   How did the relatively obscure genre of Japanese City Pop, an amalgam of American soul and funk and Japanese songcraft from the 1970s and 80s, become the sound of the moment? For Pitchfork's Cat Zhang, City Pop's heart-on-its-sleeve emotions and slick production resonates with the nostalgic leanings of much contemporary pop. Sampled by artists like Tyler the Creator and inspiring original material from bands around the globe, City Pop has much to tell us about cultural exchange, technology, and the enduring universal power of slap bass.  Songs Discussed: Miki Matsubara - Stay With Me Mariya Takeuchi - Plastic Love Makoto Matsushita - Business Man Pt 1 Tatsuro Yamashita - Marry-go-round Anri - Good Bye Boogie Dance Boredoms - Which Dooyoo Like Toshiko Yonekawa - Sōran Bushi Takeo Yamashita - Touch of Japanese Tone Mai Yamane - Tasogare Young Nudy ft Playboi Carti's - Pissy Pamper Tatsuro Yamashita - Fragile Tyler The Creator - GONE, GONE / THANK YOU 9 Sunset Rollercoaster - Burgundy Red Check out Cat's article The Endless Life Cycle of Japanese City Pop on Pitchfork Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

J Cole's The Off Season and the Power of the 12/8 Shuffle

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 8, 2021 31:10

J Cole is one of the most successful rappers of his generation, someone who racks up hits while sustaining critical acclaim. But that isn't necessarily a good thing. Cole's sixth studio album “The Off Season” finds a musician struggling to stave off complacency and keep his skills sharp. In a short documentary about the album, Cole describes the album as an attempt to “push himself,” a sentiment reflected in a line from the Timbaland-produced track “Amari”: “If you solo these vocals, listen close and you can hear grumbling.” Cole is never satisfied on this album, pushing his technique to the breaking point through verbal dexterity and rhythmic complexity. One way Cole stays on his toes is through the use of a trap beat melded with one of the oldest grooves in pop: the 12/8 shuffle. He's far from the only artist to make use of an often overlooked, but iconic meter. Why does this pattern keep us moving? And where did its unique sound come from? We have a theory about that... Songs discussed: J Cole - Amari, Punching the Clock, The Climb Back, Interlude Brief Encounter - I'm So in Love With You Adam Lambert - Another Lonely Night Carly Rae Jepsen - Run Away With Me Disclosure ft Sam Smith - Latch  Steely Dan - Aja Toto - Roseanna  Led Zeppelin - Fool in the Rain Kanye West - Black Skinhead Billie Eilish - Bury a Friend Vulfpeck ft Bernard Purdie and Theo Katzman - Something Watch Bernard “Pretty” Purdie: The Legendary Purdie Shuffle Read more on The Off Season in Craig Jenkins in-depth review on Vulture. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

ICYMI Rina Sawayama Reimagines the 00s

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 1, 2021 20:27

One of our favorites artists right now is Rina Sawayama. She works with her producer Clarence Clarity to make this mash up of sounds from the late 90s and early aughts. She in particular recasts Max Martin pop and Nu Metal — too styles that rarely converged — to make compelling songs with a strong anti-consumerist message. I spoke with Rina Sawayama last summer about her debut eponymous album Sawayama and she shared with me the stories behind her songs XS and STFU. We're rebroadcasting our interview with her from last summer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Vijay Iyer on why jazz has always been political

Play Episode Listen Later May 25, 2021 31:15


When you think of jazz, you might think of La La Land, luxury car commercials, or fancy dinner parties. Cool, sophisticated, complex, jazz today seems to signify the epitome of class and taste. For pianist Vijay Iyer, that view gets the music completely wrong. Jazz isn’t cool. Jazz is countercultural. Jazz is alive and relevant. Jazz fights racism and injustice. And for those reasons, maybe we shouldn’t be calling this music “jazz” at all. With a trio of Linda May Han Oh on bass and Tyshawn Sorey on drums, Iyer has recorded a new album, Uneasy, that continues the defiant political legacy of improvised music. Through songs that tackles the Flint water crisis, the murder of Eric Garner, and social unrest, Iyer connects to the key of issues of our day without saying a word. While his songs speak to our chaotic present and crackle with fierce urgency, they also reach back to elders like John Coltrane, Geri Allen, and Charles Mingus—musicians who never shied away from a fight.  Songs discussed: Charlie Parker - Ko Ko Charles Mingus - Fables of Faubus, Original Faubus Fables Vijay Iyer - Children of Flint, Combat Breathing, Uneasy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices


Introducing Galaxy Brains

Play Episode Listen Later May 18, 2021 34:50

Today we’re sharing something a little different - a new TV and film show from the Vox Media Podcast Network that we think you’ll like called Galaxy Brains. On Galaxy Brains, entertainment writer Dave Schilling and Mystery Science Theater 3000’s Jonah Ray explore a big, mind-expanding question raised by a TV show or movie, and take it way, way too seriously. In the preview episode we’re sharing today, they explore why the once-panned musical comedy Josie and The Pussycats may have actually been a sharp critique of capitalism that was well ahead of its time. It’s weird. It’s funny. We’ll hope you’ll give it a listen, then go follow Galaxy Brains on your favorite podcast app. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Turns out Willow Smith rocks

Play Episode Listen Later May 11, 2021 32:43


Willow Smith has a new Paramore-inspired emo-slash-pop punk track with a formidable drum groove powered by Travis Barker. Over churning guitars she sneers at fake friends: "smile in my face, then put your cig out on my back." As Nate and Charlie headbanged along to we found ourselves asking "why did we sleep on Willow Smith?" Maybe because we had not taken Willow seriously, knowing her only as the nine (!) year-old singer behind the precocious hit "Whip My Hair" back in 2010. In the ensuing decade, your hosts missed out on the rise of a talented musician. Her slow-burn, consciousness-expanding, galaxy-brain funk track "Wait A Minute!" from 2015 showcased the voice of a full-fledged artist. So why couldn't we hear her? Whether because we perceived nepotism or industry sleight-of-hand as the cause of her success, or maybe because we just didn't think a celebrity kid could also have anything to say worth hearing. Whoops. And it's not just Willow. Turns out the whole Pinkett-Smith clan have discographies worth taking a closer listen to. Who knew Jaden was sampling 1930s jazz wailer Cab Calloway? Or that Jada fronted a death metal band who got booed for being Black in a white genre? Or that the much-maligned "Getting' Jiggy Wit It" by Big Willie Style himself....actually bangs? Songs discussed: Willow Smith - Transparent Soul, Wait A Minute!, Whip My Hair Osamu - Koroneko No Tango Jordy - Dur dur d'être bébé! Wicked Wisdom - Bleed All Over Me Jaden Smith - Icon Cab Calloway - Hi De Ho Man Will Smith - Gettin' Jiggy Wit It Sister Sledge - He's the Greatest Dancer The Bar-Kays - Sang and Dance Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices


Julia Michaels’ Songwriting Superpowers

Play Episode Listen Later May 4, 2021 42:39

For nearly a decade, Julia Michaels has penned hit songs for the biggest acts in pop music. She is adept at turning people’s vulnerabilities into memorable hooks — think Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” or Selena Gomez’s “Lose You to Love Me.” There are countless others, but all of them share distinctive traits. Where many songwriters might turn to the simplest, almost nursery-rhyme-level lyrics to get the message across, Michaels does the opposite. She crams as many words as possible into each phrase. Her lyrics sound spoken. On her own hit song, her 2017 debut solo single “Issues,” she sings, “Bask in the glory, of all our problems / ’Cause we got the kind of love it takes to solve ’em”; it earned her a Song of the Year nomination at the 2018 Grammys, along with a Best New Artist nod. Her rhyming may sound accidental, but that’s the pop-song illusion. Michaels’s idiosyncratic phrasing has symmetry and her rhyming is indeed purposeful, all to illuminate her primary subject: the infinite recursions of human relationships. After releasing three EPs and countless singles of her own, Michaels has just released her first full-length album, Not in Chronological Order. On this week’s episode of Switched on Pop, Nate and Charlie try to identify Julias Michaels songwriting superpowers and then Charlie speaks with Michaels about how the vagaries of the heart inspire an endless stream of songs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

How Take A Day Trip took off (full interview)

Play Episode Listen Later Apr 30, 2021 39:49

The story of the hitmakers behind Lil Nas X’s “Montero” Sheck Wes’s “Mo Bamba” and many more Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Mystery of Montero AKA Lil Nas X (feat. Take A Day Trip)

Play Episode Listen Later Apr 27, 2021 37:14

Lil Nas X has a talent for creating productive controversy. First with “Old Town Road,” he challenged expectations about blackness in country music. Now with “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” he takes aim at anti LGBTQ+ messages propagated by the religious dogma from his youth (he came out as gay during Pride 2019). The song describes a romantic encounter without innuendo. Sure it’s raunchy, but the song doesn’t especially stand out on Billboard where explicit sexual fantasy is commonplace. But his use of religious iconography in his video and merchandise created an immediate backlash. In the video to “Montero,” Lil Nas X rides a stripped pole into hades where he gives a lap dance to Satan (also played by Lil Nas X). Despite the obvious commentary on repressive orthodoxy, religious conservatives failed to see the subtext. The song became a lightning rod. But as pundits fought on social media about the song's meaning, most critics failed to look into the song’s musical references. Produced by Take A Day Trip, the duo behind Shek Wes’ “Mo Bamba” and Lil Nas X’s “Panini,” “Montero'' mashes up genres that take the listener on a global journey, sharing his message of acceptance across cultures. Music Lil Nas X — Montero, Old Town Road, Panini 24kGoldn, iann dior - Mood Dick Dale and his Del-Tones - Misirlou Tetos Demetriades - Misirlou Aris San Boom Pam Silsulim - Static & Ben El Shek Was — Mo Bamba Lehakat Tzliley Haud Bouzouki recording from xserra from FreeSound under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License More Listen to Gal Kadan’s project: Awesome Orientalists From Europa on Bandcamp Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Pop On A Perilous Planet (w Kyle Devine)

Play Episode Listen Later Apr 20, 2021 35:16

Earth Day 2021 gives us the chance to pause our usual programming and consider the role pop music plays in our deepening climate emergency. On Side A, we listen to artists who have confronted the climate crisis head-on. Side B considers the environmental cost of streaming music with Kyle Devine, author of Decomposed: The Political Ecology of Music. Songs Discussed: George Pope Morris - Woodman, Spare That Tree! Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi Marvin Gaye - Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) Tower of Power - Only So Much Oil in the Ground Various Artists - Love Song for the Earth Anohni - 4 Degrees The Weather Station - The Robber DJ Cavem - Sprout That Life Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Inside the songwriting session with Teddy Geiger & Dan Wilson (On Air Fest 2021)

Play Episode Listen Later Apr 13, 2021 32:18

On Switched on Pop we talk to songwriters and artists about how they make great songs. Most songs are written with two or more people in the room. Something we've never done before is pair two of the best songwriters in the business to explain how they create a successful collaboration. Teddy Geiger is a Grammy nominated songwriter who's written countless number ones. You've likely heard her work with Sean Mendes, Leon Bridges, and Christina Aguilera, among many others. She’s also a critically acclaimed artist who's just released a single called “Love Somebody” written with Ricky Reed and Dan Wilson. Dan Wilson is the bandleader of Semisonic, famous for the song “Closing Time,” and the co-writer of Adele's “Someone Like You” and “Ready to Make Nice” by the Chicks. Wilson recently shared his top songwriting and collaboration tips published as a deck of cards called Words and Music in Six Seconds. He shared his ground rules for collaboration from the deck, through the case study of Teddy Geiger’s “Love Somebody” as part of On Air Fest 2021. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Silk Sonic's Retro Soul (with Tayla Parx)

Play Episode Listen Later Apr 6, 2021 53:52

Anderson Paak and Bruno Mars have joined forces as the duo Silk Sonic, and their first release “Leave the Door Open” suggests that their collab is as natural as peanut butter and jelly. The song exudes throwback vibes through its lush harmonies and sensuous lyrics. But this isn’t any run-of-the-mill exercise in empty nostalgia. Silk Sonic have a very specific sound in mind that they’re reviving for 21st century audiences: Philly Soul, the sophisticated 70s sound that “put a bow tie on funk.” Charlie and Nate aren’t the only ones trying to blow the dust out of the grooves of “Leave the Door Open.” Songwriter Tayla Parx, who’s worked with everyone from Ariana Grande to Panic! At the Disco to Anderson Paak himself, joins the hosts to help explain how Silk Sonic created such a catchy track, and why modern listeners might be ready for a blast from the past.  Songs Discussed Silk Sonic - Leave the Door Open Aretha Franklin - I Say a Little Prayer The Temptations - My Girl Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell - Ain’t No Mountain High Enough Martha and the Vandellas - Dancing in the Street Otis Redding - Try a Little Tenderness Sam and Dave - Soul Man Commodores - Who’s Making Love MFSB - TSOP O’Jays - Love Train Billy Paul - Me and Mrs. Jones The Stylistics - You Are Everything Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes - If You Don’t Know Me By Now The Delfonics - Didn’t I Blow Your Mind Seals and Croft - Summer Breeze Smokey Robinson - Quiet Storm Teddy Pendergrass - Close the Door Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

AJR Conjure Broadway on OK Orchestra

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 30, 2021 43:18

Andrew, Jack and Ryan Met, better known as AJR, started playing gigs on the streets of New York City. The sidewalk hustle taught them how to grab the attention of the least forgiving audience. Now on their fourth studio album OK Orchestra, they’ve honed an ear-stopping sound that combines modern pop with broadway bombast.  Their platinum-certified single “Bang,” pairs carnival-like horns section with skitterying trap style hi-hats. This strange pairing worked. Peaking at No. 8 on the Hot 100, the song is their strongest commercial release so far, despite sounding like nothing else on Billboard. It is a coming of age celebration (“I’m way too old to try so whatever, come hang / Let’s go out with a bang”) with lyrics that lament the pedestrian parts of adulthood: eating healthy, paying taxes, and remembering your passwords. Like its broadway influences, “Bang” takes little moments and makes them sound larger than life.  Switched On Pop’s Charlie Harding spoke with Jack and Ryan Met about the making of “Bang,” their latest single “Way Less Sad” and the show tune influences on OK Orchestra. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Return of the Funk Guitar: Cory Wong Breaks Down Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware and Nile Rodgers

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 23, 2021 34:02

Cory Wong is a Minneapolis native and Vulfpeck collaborator known for pushing rhythm guitar from a background instrument to the star of the show. Wong’s a walking encyclopedia of funk guitar, and he takes us through the riffs and styles—from Nile Rodgers to Quincy Jones—that power modern bops such as Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” and Jessie Ware’s “Step Into My Life.”  For Cory, rhythm guitar isn’t just a source of propulsive joy, but a sound that’s intimately connected to different regional scenes: change one note in a riff and you’ve moved from Philadelphia to Cincinatti. Every bubble and chuck speaks to a history of musical innovation - a history Cory mines on his new album-slash-variety show, Cory and the Wongnotes. Mixing comedy sketches, massively funky performances, and interviews, Cory’s project imagines what happens when the bandleader takes over as late night host. Songs Discussed (it’s a long one) VULFPECK - Cory Wong Doja Cat - Say So Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk (Audio) ft. Bruno Mars Dua Lipa - Levitating Chic - Good Times Earth, Wind & Fire - Shining Star Ohio Players - Love Rollercoaster Prince - I Wanna Be Your Lover Maroon 5 - Moves Like Jagger feat. Christina Aguilera Morris Day & The Time - The Bird Bootsy Collins - Stretchin' Out (In a Rubber Band) Gap Band - I Don't Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance (Oops Up Side Your Head) James Payback - The Payback Sly & The Family Stone - Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) Jessie Ware - Step Into My Life Chic - Le Freak David Bowie “Modern Love”  Duran Duran “Notorious”  Diana Ross - I’m Coming Out The B52’s “Love Shack”  Avicii “Lay Me Down”  Diana Ross - Upside Down Sister Sledge - We Are Family Sister Sledge - Thinking Of You  Sister Sledge - He’s The Greatest Dancer  Steve Winwood “Higher Love” chorus Stevie wonder - Higher Ground Michael Jackson - Billie Jean Michael Jackson - Thriller Daft Punk - Get Lucky (Feat. Pharrell Williams) David Bowie - Let's Dance Madonna - Like a Virgin Eminem - Lose Yourself Miley Cyrus - Party In The U.S.A Stevie wonder - Higher Ground Michael Jackson - Billie Jean Michael Jackson - Thriller Daft Punk - Get Lucky (Feat. Pharrell Williams) David Bowie - Let's Dance Madonna - Like a Virgin Eminem - Lose Yourself Miley Cyrus - Party In The U.S.A Cory Wong - Tiki Hut Strut Cory and The Wongnotes - Episode 4, “Genre (ft Grace Kelly)” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

What the 63rd Grammys say about the state of pop

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 16, 2021 42:45

The 63rd Grammys was as unprecedented and unusual as last year. Backdropped by the pandemic, the show was delayed and had to be taped in multiple locations in front of a bare bones audience. Echoing the public cries against injustice, standout performances by Mickey Guyton, DaBaby, and Lil Baby decried racism to the nation and to the Grammys—the academy made multiple public statements throughout the night promising to do better. The more light hearted performers played best against highly produced backdrops (Silk Sonic, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, and Taylor Swift), but others fell flat, lacking an audience reaction. Not unexpectedly, the Grammy awards ranged from predictable to jaw dropping. Notably, Beyoncé broke records: she now holds more Grammys than any other singer in history. And the major four categories —Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year — were all awarded to women. While the Grammy ceremony horse race can be as much a commentary on commercial worth as musical strengths, the ceremony has much to teach us about what pop music means in 2021.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Kimbra reflects on a song we used to know

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 9, 2021 49:01

Ten years ago the Australian artist Gotye asked New Zealand musician Kimbra to feature on his song “Somebody I Used To Know.” At the time Kimbra had no idea it was going to be a hit. No wonder—the song lacks the trappings of a conventional pop song. The chorus shows up late and it only repeats once in a track composed of an obscure Brazilian guitar sample and nursery rhyme xylophones.   But this slow burner about opposing sides in a relationship's bitter end found a global audience, ascending to No. 1 in more than 25 countries, and accumulating billions of plays across streaming platforms. In 2013, Prince anointed Gotye and Kimbra the Grammy for record of the year (it won best pop duo/group performance as well). The song created many opportunities for both Gotye and Kimbra, but both chose unconventional paths, resisting the industry’s desire to generate the next hit for hits sake. Reflecting on the song a decade later, Kimbra spoke with Charlie Harding from the podcast Switched On Pop about how this unlikely song inspired her to pursue her singular musical vision, and how it feels to be yet again co-nominated for a 2021 Grammy for her collaboration with Jacob Collier and Tank and The Bangas on “In My Bones.” SONGS DISCUSSED Gotye - Somebody I Used to Know (feat. Kimbra) Luiz Bonfá - Seville  Kimbra - Miracle  Kimbra - 90s Music  Kimbra - Top of the World Jacob Collier - In My Bones  Kimbra - Right Direction Son Lux - Lost It To Trying MORE Check out Kimbra’s course on Vocal Creativity, Arranging, and Production over at Soundfly Listen to our conversation with Jacob Collier Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Kaytranada's journey from basement beat-making to the Grammys

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 2, 2021 37:33

Kaytranada has what every producer strives for: an in demand signature sound. His records glide fluidly between four-to-the-floor house beats, hip hop sample flipping and P-Funk style 808 bass lines. It’s a technique he honed as a teenager, and one that grabbed the attention of star collaborators: Pharrell Williams, Mary J Blige, Alisha Keys, Anderson .Paak, and Kendrick Lamar. This year he’s nominated for three 2021 Grammys including Best Dance/Electronica Album for his 2019 release Bubba, and Best New Artist. But Kaytranada is hardly new to music, he’s been building a music career for over a decade. Switched On Pop’s Charlie Harding spoke with Kaytranada about how his DIY approach to production led him to music’s biggest stage.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

If The World Was Ending We’d Talk to JP Saxe About Songwriting

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 23, 2021 37:43

JP Saxe wrote the song “If the World was Ending” with acclaimed songwriter Julia Michaels in 2019 about a fictional cataclysm. The record was released in the before times in a way that seemed to presage lockdown. In the early months of the actual pandemic the song resonated so widely that it catapulted up the charts. It’s now been nominated for a Grammy for song of the year — an award JP Saxe could share with his grandfather János Starker who was awarded a Grammy in 1997 for a recording of Bach’s cello suites. We wanted to speak with JP not just because of the song's success, but also because he has a way of thinking about the practical implications and even morality of songwriting in this track as well as his song "Line By Line" with Maren Morris. Songs Discussed JP Saxe with Julia Michaels - If The World Was Ending JP Saxe - 25 In Barcelona, A Little Bit Yours, The Few Things, Same Room Lennon Stella - Golf on TV (with JP Saxe) JP Saxe, Maren Morris - Line By Line Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Adrian Younge's new project sounds like James Baldwin meets Marvin Gaye

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 16, 2021 34:41


Adrian Younge is a producer for entertainment greats ranging from Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar to the Wu Tang clan, a composer for television shows such as Marvel's Luke Cage (with A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Mohammad), and owner of the Linear Labs record label and analog studio. Younge has a new mixed media project that breaks down the evolution of racism in America that he calls his “most important creative accomplishment.” A short film, T.A.N., and podcast, Invisible Blackness, accompany the album The American Negro (available Feb 26). Younge tells Switched on Pop how his experience as a law professor and his all-analog approach to recording resulted in a sound he describes as “James Baldwin hooked up with Marvin Gaye.” Music Discussed Adrian Younge - Revolutionize, The American Negro, Revisionist History, Black Lives Matter, Margaret Garner Gil Scott Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised More Additional production by Megan Lubin Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


The Scandalous Sounds of Bridgerton (w Kris Bowers)

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 9, 2021 41:14

The Netflix series Bridgerton has hooked audiences with its bodice-ripping sex scenes, a colorblind approach period drama casting, and a soundtrack featuring recreations of modern bangers from pop stars like Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish arranged in the style of a classical string quartet. By bringing modern melodies into the proper world of Regency England, the show reminds us that classical music wasn’t always so stuffy and solemn. In its time, it trafficked in the same scandal as modern pop. Alongside these classical-pop mashups, Bridgerton serves up its own ravishing score from composer Kris Bowers, who joins to break down how he made the past pop. Songs Discussed: Vitamin String Quartet - Thank U, Next, Bad Guy, In My Blood Kris Bowers - When You Are Alone, Flawless My Dear, Strange Maurice Ravel - Tombeau de Couperin, Prelude Clara Schumann - Der Mond Kommt Still Gegangen Johannes Brahms - Symphony No 3 in F Major Op 90, Mvt 3 (for Four Hand Piano) More Read Maria Popova on the letters of Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann and Adrian Daub on Four Handed Monsters Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

How The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” used retro sounds and modern bass to break every record

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 2, 2021 38:58

This Sunday, The Weeknd will perform his distinctly dark brand of pop at the Super Bowl halftime show. On the surface, the alter-ego of Abel Tesfaye is a strange pick for the ostensibly family-friendly main-stage — for more than a decade, The Weeknd has fused the sounds of pop, R&B, and trap into a cinematic horror-thriller about drugs, sex and the excess of fame. While his sheer volume of Hot 100 hits have rightly earned him mainstream status, even his most commercial material is hardly PG — the 2015 hit “Can’t Feel My Face” is an 80s throwback laced with on-the-nose cocaine metaphors.  But over the last year his subversive image has been rewritten by the song “Blinding Lights,” from his 2020 album After Hours. The song vaulted up the charts in March 2020, supported by a viral TikTok challenge: Using the song’s opening instrumental as inspiration, countless families performed the dance together while sheltering in place. Since then, seemingly every radio format, adult contemporary included, has played this song on repeat, making it the longest running song in the Hot 100 top five and top ten (given the songs success, The Weeknd is justly aggrieved by the Grammy’s recent snub). On Switched on Pop’s first episode as part of Vulture, we break down how “Blinding Lights” blends lyrical relatability with musical familiarity, earning The Weeknd the biggest and perhaps most misunderstood hit of his career. Songs Discussed The Weeknd - Blinding Lights Michael Sembello - Maniac a-ha - Take on Me Bruce Springsteen - Blinded By The Light Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Blinded By The Light The Weeknd - Can't Feel My Face The Weeknd - Faith The Weeknd - In Your Eyes The Weeknd - Save Your Tears The Weeknd - Until I Bleed Out More Read Chris Molanphy's "Why the Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” Is the First Chart Topper of the Coronavirus Era" Thanks to Arc Iris for the theme song reharmonization Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Epik High is our gateway into Korean hip hop (with Tablo)

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 26, 2021 53:12

Epik High are elemental to Korean hip hop. DJ Tukutz, Mithra Jin and Tablo’s underground style boom bap beats with dexterous rapping helped bring this music from its underground roots to a global scale. On their latest release, Epik High Is Here Part I, the textures are subdued but paired with heavy drums and aggressive vocals, a contrast that matches our collective anxiety arising from the pandemic. Charlie speaks with Tablo about the creation of the album, but first first ethnomusicologist Youngdae Kim shares a short history on the development of Korean hip hop.  More Read Youngdae Kim and T.K. Park’s “A Brief History of Korean Hip-hop”  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

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