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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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 ‘Renaissance' Era

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 9, 2022 31:43

Beyoncé's new album Renaissance is one of her most ambitious albums yet. On this week's episode of Switched On Pop, we discuss Renaissance with beloved guest Sam Sanders, host of the new Vulture podcast Into It. In Sanders' words: “it's trying to do a lot” – but in the best way. The album incorporates seemingly every decade of contemporary popular dance music from Chic's “Good Times” to Right Said Fred's “I'm Too Sexy.” Much of the early discourse surrounding the album was marred by a confusing controversy over a small sample (we try to resolve the issue musicologically) – but the references on Renaissance are worth listening closely to, acting as a guide through essential dance music. The album is an homage to the black and queer innovators of dance; with samples and interpolations of songs both niche and mainstream flying by, like a DJ set curated by house music pioneers.  On Renaissance, Beyoncé goes out of her way to cite, credit and compensate her influences, resulting in a triumph of musical curation. Just look at “Alien Superstar”: the song credits twenty-four people, largely due to Beyoncé's musical nods, rather than an exercise in boardroom style songwriting. Sanders says “the liner notes themselves are showing you that this woman and her team have a PhD in music history.” Listen to Switched On Pop to hear how Renaissance honors dance music innovators and finds new modes of expression in the genre.  Subscribe to Into It with Sam Sanders Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://bit.ly/3vE4jqf Listen on Spotify: https://bit.ly/3bB7Vmf Listen elsewhere: https://bit.ly/3BI0Nz0 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Into It: The Business of Beyoncé

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 5, 2022 39:08

Subscribe to Into It with Sam Sanders Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://bit.ly/3vE4jqf Listen on Spotify: https://bit.ly/3bB7Vmf Listen elsewhere: https://bit.ly/3BI0Nz0 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

"It's About Damn Time" for Another Lizzo #1

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 2, 2022 30:30

In the middle of a long, hot summer 2022, the people have spoken, and the people want to dance. Lizzo's "About Damn Time" just replaced Harry Styles's "As It Was" to become the top song on the Billboard Hot 100. Powered by retro instrumentation, a propulsive groove, meme-worthy lyrics, and a generous dose of slash chords (not the Guns 'n Roses guitarist, the harmonic voicing), Lizzo's hit song marks a deepening of the sound she established in past tracks like "Juice." But on other tracks from her latest album Special, Lizzo aims for new aesthetics. "Coldplay"—featuring a rare Chris Martin vocal sample—opts for emotional honestly over pithy affirmations. With the upbeat "Grrrls," Lizzo found herself in an online controversy: she had used a ableist slur in the song's lyrics. Taking the criticism as an opportunity to learn, Lizzo chose to replace the offensive line—but have other artists of pop's past always followed suit when met with fan feedback? Songs Discussed Lizzo - About Damn Time, Juice, Coldplay, Grrrls Daft Punk, Pharrel Williams - Lose Yourself to Dance Michael Jackson - Rock With You, They Don't Care About Us Quelle Chris, Chris Keys - Sudden Death Coldplay - Yellow Beastie Boys - Girls, Sure Shot Taylor Swift - Picture to Burn Lady Gaga - Born This Way Orville Peck - Born This Way Ella Fitzgerald - How Long Has This Been Going On Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Elvis, Big Mama Thornton, Doja Cat, and the Long Legacy of “Hound Dog”

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 26, 2022 23:41

Baz Luhrmann's hit box office hit biopic Elvis has spurred new interest in the music of The King. Elvis Presley's streaming subscribers has grown by two million listeners on Spotify since the film's release according to ChartMetric, and if you're hearing a lot more “Hound Dog” these days, it might be partially due to the success of Doja Cat's hit song “Vegas,” which updates – and interpolates – the song for contemporary listeners.  Doja Cat's version samples from the original 1953 “Hound Dog,” sung by Big Mama Thornton and written by acclaimed songwriter team Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (whose credits also include Presley's “Jailhouse Rock” and Ben E. King's “Stand By Me”). The original is a sauntering blues song with a raunchy tale about a two timing man; Presley, who is frequently said to have stolen the song from Thorton, instead sings a tepid lyric about an actual dog, and radically changes the groove.  But in an interview with Rolling Stone, Stoller says Presley didn't steal the song at all. Rather, he adapted one of many covers of the song, specifically the version performed by the Las Vegas lounge act Freddie Bell and the Bellboys. Their “Hound Dog” borrows its upbeat rhythm from a song responding to the original “Hound Dog,” titled “Bear Cat.” It's a similar rhythm to the one we hear on the contemporary Doja Cat version, “Vegas,” which heavily features samples of Thornton's original vocals: listening closely reveals a song that synthesizes a complicated music history by uniting the best parts of the many versions of “Hound Dog.”  Listen to the latest episode of Switched On Pop and uncover the long legacy of “Hound Dog.” Songs Discussed Big Mama Thorton - Hound Dog Elvis - Hound Dog Doja Cat - Vegas Esther Phillips - Hound Dog Jack Turner - Hound Dog Rufus Thomas - Bear Cat Freddie Bell and the Bellboys T.L.C. - No Scrubs Sporty Thievz - No Pigeons  W.C. Handy - St. Louis Blues Duke Ellington - Conga brava Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Didn't It Rain Fats Domino - Mardi Gras in New Orleans Dave Bartholomew - Country Boy Little Richard - Slipping' And Sliding' Jack Harlow - Dua Lipa Future - Puffin on Zootiez Hitkidd, Gorilla - F.N.F. (Let's Go) Bad Bunny - Después de la Playa Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

We Won't Go Back: Pop Music and the Fight For Reproductive Rights (w MILCK and Ann Powers)

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 19, 2022 30:21

On June 24th 2022 the Supreme Court decided Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization, overturning Roe v Wade and asserting that the Constitution of the United States does not confer a right to abortion. The decision marked a seismic moment in politics and culture that has affected everyone's lives, and the world of pop music is no exception. Musicians started responding immediately, from Cher to Olivia Rodrigo: on social media, at their shows, and in their music. Critic Ann Powers has been chronicling the reactions in a running list at NPR, and she joins in the second half of the episode to talk about the long history of artists speaking out—and singing—about reproductive rights.  One artist who wasted no time responding to the Dobbs decision is the singer and songwriter Connie Lim, aka MILCK. Her song “We Won't Go Back,” composed with Biianco, Autumn Rowe, and Ani DeFranco, came about after Politico published an article in May with the leaked draft of the Dobbs decision, telling the world in no uncertain terms that the Supreme Court was considering striking down Roe. MILCK found herself protesting in D.C., this time with her camera ready. The chants she heard there became the first sonic element of “We Won't Go Back.” Songs Discussed MILCK, Biianco, Autumn Rowe, Ani DeFranco - We Won't Go Back MILCK - Quiet Ani DeFranco - Play God  Poison Girls - Mandy Is Having a Baby Cyndi Lauper - Sally's Pigeons Leslie Gore - You Don't Own Me Robyn - Giving You Back Joni Mitchell - Little Green L7 - Pretend We're Dead Everlast - What It's Like Madonna - Papa Don't Preach Lauryn Hill - To Zion Megan Thee Stallion - Plan B Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Harry and the Sledgehammer Horns

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 12, 2022 24:56

As we hit the dog days of summer, the artist that's started to soundtrack pool parties across the country is former One Direction bandmate and contemporary sex symbol Harry Styles. In May, Styles released Harry's House, an album propelled by the number one hit “As It Was.” Despite having critical and commercial success, a barb often thrown at the album is the idea of it being inoffensive: pleasant, “easy listening” music apt for an elevator, grocery store or, perhaps, a sushi restaurant.  Fans of Styles have warmly accepted this, and have come to love his sly appreciation of different decades of pop music history. This latest album reveals an interesting connection to one era in particular: the 1980s and the percussive, full-bodied horn sections that came with it.  The first track on Harry's House, “Music for a Sushi Restaurant,” offers a whole chorus of just horns, in an homage to one of Styles's musical touchstones, Peter Gabriel. These 80s “sledgehammer horns” connect to a deep well of 80s grooves—from Lionel Richie's "Up All Night" to Janet Jackson and Herb Alpert's "Diamonds," —as Styles's strives to achieve the same effortless funk and propulsion of his brassy icons.   Songs Discussed Harry Styles - As It Was, Music for a Sushi Restaurant, Daydreaming Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer Lionel Richie - Up All Night Donna Summer - She Works Hard for the Money Sheila E. - The Glamorous Life Steve Winwood - Higher Love Janet Jackson and Herb Alpert - Diamonds Herb Alpert - Rise Notorious B.I.G. - Hypnotize  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

ICYMI: The 90s' Most Unlikely Hit (with Baz Luhrmann)

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 5, 2022 53:02

In 1999 filmmaker Baz Luhrmann released the song “Everybody's Free To Wear Sunscreen,” a 7-minute-long graduation speech set to downtempo electronic music. It was a highly unlikely hit that made its way across continents and eventually into the ears of a young Avery Trufelman via the album NOW That's What I Call Music Volume 2. For over 20 years, Trufelman has applied the song's advice to her daily life: “wear sunscreen… be nice to your siblings… do one thing every day that scares you.” This unusual song has left a lasting impression, and yet for Trufelman, it makes no sense that “The Sunscreen Song” was commercially successful. We investigate the song's many architects — novelist Kurt Vonnegut, Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich and Baz Luhrmann himself — to unpack one of the internet's first conspiracy theories that turned into Billboard's greatest outlier.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Beyoncé's House

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 28, 2022 32:18

The world stops with a Beyoncé drop. On Monday, June 20th, our prayers were answered with “Break My Soul,” the lead single off of her upcoming album, Renaissance. The song draws from several places of inspiration: lyrically, it's a cathartic dance-floor ode to liberation, soundtracking the current cultural moment that some have called the “Great Resignation.” Sonically, though, “Break My Soul” is Beyoncé's foray into house music – a genre that the chair of the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, Jason King, summarizes as “a highly rhythmic dance music created by mostly Black and brown artists in the late 1970s and early 1980s,” propelled by a fanbase of queer and trans communities of color. There's been an undeniable buzz that Beyoncé is “bringing house music back.” And from Charli XCX to Drake, it does feel like house music is currently having a moment in mainstream pop music, paralleling the original rise of the subculture from the ruins of disco. But the genre “has always been here,” in King's words, and has decades of history. In this episode of Switched On Pop, we unpack house music – and how Beyoncé's “Break My Soul” fits into the genre.   Songs Discussed Beyoncé - “BREAK MY SOUL” Beyoncé - “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” Drake - “Falling Back” Thelma Houston - “Don't Leave Me This Way” Robin S - “Show Me Love” Bob Sinclair, Steve Edwards - “World Hold On (Children of the sky)” Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj - “Swish Swish” Charli XCX - “Used To Know Me” Livin' Joy - “Don't Stop Movin'” Mr. Fingers - “Can You Feel It” Madonna - “Vogue” Black Box - “Ride on Time” CeCe Peniston - “Finally” Aqua - “Barbie Girl” Big Freedia - “Explode” Beyoncé - “Formation” Drake - “Nice For What” Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers - “Get Lucky” Destiny's Child - “Say My Name - Maurice's Last Days Of Disco Millennium Mix” Beyoncè - “FIND YOUR WAY BACK” Madonna - “Deeper and Deeper” Janet Jackson - “Together Again” C & C Music Factory - “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Robert Glasper on jazz, basketball, and his score for "Winning Time"

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 21, 2022 24:29

Robert Glasper is the only artist to have an album debut in the top 10 of 4 different Billboard charts. He's a musical polymath whose resume ranges from Kendrick Lamar to Herbie Hancock. At the piano, he serves up jazz licks worthy of Mary Lou Williams before segueing into a Nirvana cover. Glasper brings his diverse skill set to bear on his latest project, the score for the HBO series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, composed in collaboration with "Succession" soundtracker Nicholas Britell. It's not just Glasper's musical chops that made him the perfect candidate for the gig: in a past life, he was a baller himself. Nate spoke with Glasper about crafting the sound of the 1980s, improvising soundtrack themes on the spot, and what jazz and basketball have in common. Songs Discussed Robert Glasper - Over, FTB, "Winning Time" and "The Photograph" Themes Nicholas Britell - "Succession" and "Moonlight" Themes Morris Day and The Time - Get It Up Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Scoring Stranger Things with Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 16, 2022 21:55

We recently deconstructed how Kate Bush's 1985 song “Running Up That Hill” has found itself at the center of culture due to a placement in the Netflix, eighties, horror, sci-fi show, Stranger Things. For that episode we excerpted an interview with the composers of the show who shared great insights on how they created the iconic theme song and spooky soundscape for the most streamed show of 2022. But we want to share the full conversation with you because they have equally cheeky as well as valuable musical offerings to share. Surprisingly, this show steeped in 80s nostalgia, has a more contemporary soundtrack than you you might think.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Kate Bush, Stranger Things, and a hit song four decades in the making

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 14, 2022 31:13

Kate Bush's “running up that hill” has soared up the charts, performing better than its release in 1985. Heavily featured in Strangers Things Season 4, Netflix's most successful English language release to date by watch time, Kate Bush has found a new generation of fans via the show. The coming-of-age horror/sci-fi show has leaned heavily on 80s nostalgia since its premier in 2016. Its iconic theme song is reminiscent of John Carpenter horror b-movies, and according to Reverb.com, one of the biggest online retailers of used instruments, the theme helped rejuvenate interest in analog synthesizers from the 80s.  So when Kate Bush enters the show during a brooding high school hallway scene right out of the John Hughes playbook, it is a natural fit for the show. “Running Up That Hill” plays a pivotal, spoiler-ridden plot point in the show, requiring us to hear the hook multiple times throughout the season—a perfect ear worm ready to embed itself into TikTok memes. But its success is owed to more than just repetition. The song sounds like an extension of the sound track.  The show's composers, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, told Switched On Pop that like Kate Bush's song which waffles between major and minor, the Strange Things score “has moments of darkness and lightness in it, constantly trading places”.  And they compose from the same set of instruments: classic synthesizers and drum machines like the LinnDrum, which is  the heartbeat of Bush's song. Dixon and Stein even cite her as an essential influence saying that they “directly referenced very obviously Kate Bush—there's these little melodies that we always refer to as like and then the Kate Bush part comes in.”  Listen to Switched On Pop to hear how Kate Bush's “Running Up That Hill” is a exquisite song placement and hear how it blends seamlessly with the Stranger Things soundtrack. MORE Check out Reverb Machine's sounds of Kate Bush Reverb.com made a tutorial on the synth sounds of Stranger Things Songs Discussed Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Stranger Things Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill Dead Or Alive - You Spin Me Round Talking Heads - Psycho Killer Musical Youth - Pass the Dutchie  Carly Rae Jepsen - Cut To The Feeling The Weeknd - Blinding Lights  Prince - When Doves Cry Phil Collins - Sussudio Tangerine Dream - Sorcerer Theme Song John Carpenter - Night S U R V I V E - A.H.B. S U R V I V E - High Rise  Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Eggo in the Snow Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - She Wants Me to Find Her Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Starcourt Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Eight Fifteen Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Boys and Girls Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - The Ceiling is Beautiful Kate Bush - Waking the Witch Kate Bush - Hammer Horror Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

So your song went viral on TikTok. What's next?

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 7, 2022 34:05

There's been a meme circulating: pop stars lamenting making TikTok videos that labels force them to publish. Supposedly content creator wasn't in the pop star job description. Since 2020 the short form video social media platform TikTok has utterly upended music discovery. In many cases giving unknown musicians a pathway to enormous audiences. And it's become increasingly important, especially during the pandemic, as people stare at their phones instead of flocking out to concerts. New artists seemingly come out of nowhere, suddenly bursting into mainstream with viral tick-tock hit.  This story has been reported ad nauseam, no name musician overnight gets makes a viral hit and then lands a record deal. But this phenomenon has been difficult to quantify until recently when Estelle Caswell from Vox.com and Matt Daniels from The Pudding investigated this question. Over six months they manually compile the data of who went viral, who got signed, and whose careers dropped off. In their short documentary, “We tracked what happens after TikTok songs go viral” Caswell and Daniels definitely tell us what happened to the class of viral TikTok stars from 2020.  The numbers are surprising. Though TikTok is clearly a dominant force in new music discovery, streaming music is still overwhelmingly dominated by legacy artists. Theses established acts are now completing on the same platform for eyeballs, making it ever more challenging to break out. So what happens after you go viral on TikTok? Listen to Switched On Pop to find out what happened.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

The 1980s jam that gave Latto and Mariah Carey Big D*** Energy

Play Episode Listen Later May 31, 2022 27:06

If you've heard Latto's swaggering track "Big Energy"—and after 30 weeks on the Hot 100, you probably have—you may have heard a resemblance to Mariah Carey's 1995 hit "Big Energy." That's because both songs borrow a groove from the 1981 hit "Genius of Love," a genre-defying smash made by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. "Genius of Love" was made when Frantz and Weymouth took a break from playing in the band Talking Heads to let loose at the Island Records studio in the Bahamas with the help of some reggae luminaries. The original "Genius of Love" mashed up funk, new wave, disco, and rap, capturing the diverse sounds of 1980s downtown New York City, shouting out their musical influences in the process. From there, the song wended its way through hit after hit, from Grandmaster Flash to "Return of the Mack." Why does "Genius of Love" continue to spark musicians', and audience's, imaginations forty years after its release? Tune in to find out. Songs Discussed Latto - Big Energy Mariah Carey - Fantasy Mariah Carey ft Ol Dirty Bastard - Fantasy (Remix) Tom Tom Club - Genius of Love Grandmaster and the Furious Five - It's Nasty Busta Rhymes and Erykah Badu - One Mark Morrison - Return of the Mack Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Kendrick Lamar and the big samples

Play Episode Listen Later May 24, 2022 31:01

It's been five years since Kendrick Lamar released his Pulitzer winning album DAMN. Having established himself as a modern rap virtuoso whose songs have become anthems fueling social movements, expectations run high for his latest release. So when he dropped his new album Mr Morale and the Big Steppers, people tuned in - it is the biggest album drop of 2022 so far. Lamar moves his focus presumably from the societal to the personal on the double LP. His words arrive seemingly from therapy sessions meditating on family, infidelity, and the healing power of nature. The album has some bumps: platforming artists with a problematic past and an inelegant attempt at LGBTQ+ allyship. But nothing on the record is quite straight forward. Lamar doesn't always say exactly what he means. He frequently shifts voices and puts on different characters. In musical interludes on the record, the sound of tap dancers points to the performative nature of recored music. Rather than give us direct meaning Kendrick leaves breadcrumbs for us to follow. To unravel his lyrics its necessarily to also examine the underlying production. The samples on Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers aren't used just for their sound, in many cases they unlock the song's meaning. Switched On Pop picked six stand out samples for close listening to hear the intent hidden in the music.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Modern Classics: PJ Morton on Stevie Wonder & Nas

Play Episode Listen Later May 17, 2022 29:22

PJ Morton is one of the hardest-working musicians on the scene today. Maybe you've seen him playing keys with Maroon 5, or fronting a full string section in his NPR “Tiny Desk” concert. Maybe you've immersed yourself in his Grammy-award winning albums. On all of these projects, Morton evinces his mastery for taking classic soul and R&B and updating it with modern sounds. Other musical legends have taken notice. On his latest release, Watch The Sun, Morton is joined by some of his own sources of inspiration, singer Stevie Wonder and rapper Nas. The three combined forces on Morton's track "Be Like Water," which recites an uplifting mantra over unsettled harmonies. The effect is hypnotizing. Morton spoke with Switched On Pop about what it was like to work with his heroes, and to share overlooked modern classics from Wonder's and Nas's catalogs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Will Ukraine win Eurovision 2022?

Play Episode Listen Later May 10, 2022 29:00

Greece, Spain, UK, Sweden, Italy and Ukraine are the frontrunners in the 2022 Eurovision competition. Switched On Pop analyzes the top six songs as well as some of the more oddball picks. Songs Discussed Amanda Tenfjord - Die Together Chanel - SloMo Britney Spears - Work Bitch Sam Ryder - SPACE MAN Elton John - Rocket Man Cornelia Jakobs - Hold Me Closer Zdob și Zdub - Trenulețul  Citi Zēni - Give The Wolf A Banana Mahmood, BLANCO - Brividi Bad Bunny, Jhay Cortez - DÁKITI Kalush Orchestra - Stefania Stephane & 3G - We Don't Wanna Put In Піккардійська Терція - Гей, пливе кача Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Belle and Sebastian on the value of staying "young and stupid"

Play Episode Listen Later May 3, 2022 28:14

Belle and Sebastian released the first album Tigermilk in 1996, and they've released eight more since—a catalog that helped define the sound of rock and indie in the new millennium through buoyant melodies and verbose lyrics.  Their new album, A Bit of Previous, continues to refine their unique sound but also embraces new musical directions. We spoke to Stuart Murdoch, leader of the 7-piece band hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, about their latest project. Songs Discussed Belle and Sebastian - Young and Stupid, Unnecessary Drama, If They're Shooting at You Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

The New Alternative

Play Episode Listen Later Apr 26, 2022 31:18

In March 2022 an unusual entry made it onto the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 90s grunge band Nirvana entered the chart for only their fifth time in history with the 1991 track “Something In The Way.” The song's success is owed to being heavily featured in the 2022 reboot of The Batman. According to director Matt Reeves, Kurt Cobain inspired the brooding performance of Robert Pattinson, who plays the caped crusader. Additionally, Cobain's music influenced the film's score. The dirge-like chords from Nirvana — borrowed from Chopin's famous funeral march — are referenced throughout The Batman soundtrack by Michael Giacchino. While these musical motifs obviously point to the inner turmoil felt by a fledgling Batman, the sound is part of a larger trend: the revival of ‘alternative' music.  The overwhelming success of artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Willow, whose music borrows meaningfully from 90s alternative, has set the stage for an alternative music comeback. The genre's DIY aesthetic is a pendulum swing from the last decade's electronic-laden sounds. And the anti-corporate perspective, which developed out of the excesses of the 80s, is a fitting backdrop to contemporary activist attitudes.  On the latest episode of Switched On Pop, Nate and Charlie scan the alternative radio and streaming charts for standout songs that reveal this umbrella genre's myriad sounds and influences. What's more, they are blending and blurring these sounds for a new audience. From the 90s nostalgia of Beabadoobee, to the post-rock sounds of Wet Leg, to the industrial sonics of Halsey's latest project, they find alternative music shaping the sound of contemporary pop.  Songs Discussed (playlist) Nirvana - Something In The Way, Heart-Shaped Box Frédéric Chopin, Leif Ove Andsnes - Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 35 “Funeral March” Michael Giacchino - Can't Fight City Hallowwen Beabadoobee - Care Hole - Celebrity Skin Tracy Bonham - Mother Mother Wheatus - Teenage Dirtbag Blink-182 - I Miss You Wet Leg - Chaise Longue The Slits - Typical Girls Halsey - I am not a woman, I'm a god Nine Inch Nails - Closer Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - Intriguing Possibilites Machine Gun Kelly, Lil Wayne - ay! Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj - Knockout Willow ft. Siickbrain - PURGE Evanescence - Bring Me To Life Deftones - My Own Summer (Shove It) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Jumpstarting the creative process with Allison Ponthier

Play Episode Listen Later Apr 19, 2022 20:02

Allison Ponthier knows that the hardest part of making anything is getting started. For the New York based Texan singer/songwriter, “starting the song is so difficult.” When she was young she “always wanted to write songs,” fanatically scribbled rhymes in a diary. But she gave it up as an adolescent. The prevailing narratives of natural talent, artistic genius and spontaneous inspiration nearly put the brakes on her songwriting aspirations — she didn't pick up songwriting until nineteen: “it just took me that long to build the confidence.”  Yet with a short stint in jazz school, a scholarly approach to YouTube song tutorials, and consistent writing practice, in seven short years, twenty-six year old Ponthier has crafted a songwriting method that reliably turns the mundane into the profound. Her 2021 EP “Faking My Own Death” shows the hand of a seasoned artist. Ponthier's lyrics mine her personal life for unexpected twists and turns “it took New York to make me a cowboy.” And she has the backing of songwriting heavy weights. Recent collaborators include Lord Huron, Semisonic's Dan Wilson and Ethan Gruska (whose productions with Phoebe Bridgers soundtracked the pandemic).  Ponthier recently opened her personal songwriting notebook for Switched On Pop: “no one looks at this journal by the way” she told us. The case study she shared on her single “Autopilot” is a masterclass for anyone looking to break through creative barriers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

A Higher Power Ballad

Play Episode Listen Later Apr 12, 2022 27:28

There was something different about Justin Bieber's performance of his hit song “Peaches” at the 2022 Grammy Awards. The recorded version, which spent thirty weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, opens with a full-blast chorus featuring driving percussion and ringing guitars. But performing live, the song's instrumentation was stripped down, with Bieber alone at a grand piano, crooning into the mic. For a lighthearted song (“I get my peaches down in Georgia”), this intimate performance sounded overly serious on first listen. Slowly, the band built up, adding guest verses from Daniel Caesar and Giveon between seven repetitions of the chorus. Each time the chorus returned, the band got louder, the music pointing upward until a high-flying synth solo closed the song.  It may have been a surprising arrangement of Bieber's hit, but it was the same approach heard elsewhere in the ceremony. The same sort of slow climb was heard earlier in the night when Maverick City Music, the first Christian group to perform at the Grammys in twenty years, gave an uplifting performance of their song “Jireh” off their award winning album Old Church Basement. In the church tradition, the slow build is a common feature, beginning as a quiet prayer that expands outward as more voices join in. Naomi Raine, one of the group's seven members, describes it as “this common and underlying structure” that feels “supernatural and spiritual.”  While that familiar structure pervades the Christian music landscape, Maverick City Music has a greater purpose in their music. “We are called to blur the lines as far as what is Christian, what is Gospel, those two have been segregated for too long,” says the group's Chandler Moore. The expansiveness of the music is represented in Maverick City Music's diverse makeup. The seven core members invite dozens of songwriters from countless backgrounds to songwriting camps to explore the traditions constraining boundaries. Having only started releasing music in 2019, Maverick City Music has released over seventeen combined LPs & EPs in multiple genres including Worship, Gospel, R&B, and Latin Pop. Consistent across all those records is that transcendent slow build.  After exploring the discography of Maverick City Music, one starts to hear this song form all over pop music. In the case of Bieber, who is both friends with the group and has a religious background, his previous hit songs like “Holy” and “Anyone” also unfold in a slow build. The reworked “Peaches” Bieber performed at the Grammys even makes sense given the chorus's final line “I get my life right from the source.” There has been a long history of stylistic exchange between the religious and secular world. There would be no Rock & Roll without Gospel, and Christian Contemporary draws its sounds from the 60s folk movement. Today, songs made for worship share qualities with modern power ballads, the former elevating the spirit, the latter coaxing our emotions. On the latest episode of Switched On Pop hosts Charlie Harding and Nate Sloan speak with Maverick City Music and listen back to songs both religious and secular that lift us up. Songs Discussed Justin Bieber - Peaches (feat. Daniel Ceasar & Giveon), Holy (feat. Chance The Rapper), Anyone Maverick City Music - Old Church Basement, Jireh, Same Blood, Used To This, Nadie Como Tú Coldplay - Fix You Céline Dion - Because You Loved Me Luther Vandross - Endless Love (with Mariah Carey) But, Honestly - Foo Fighters Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

How sound becomes hearing

Play Episode Listen Later Apr 5, 2022 41:46

We love listening to music at a ridiculous level of detail. But the other day we heard a podcast that made us fundamentally question the accuracy and reliability of our own listening skills. In it they played a familiar melody, “Yankee Doodle,” in such a way that we couldn't recognize it at all. Our brain plays so many auditory tricks on us — some truly spectacular and unexplainable. In fact that's the name of the show: Unexplainable. It's hosted by Noam Hassenfeld, who in addition to being a fantastic reporter, is also a remarkable composer. So today we're sharing Unexplainable's episode on hearing. It's the 1st in a 6 part series called Making Sense. We think you're going to really dig this one.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Listening 2 Britney: Gimme More

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 29, 2022 27:35

There's no more iconic Britney lyric than the opening of “Gimme More.” It's 2007, four years since her last album In The Zone was released, and Britney is affirmatively back with the uptempo track leading off her album Blackout: “It's Britney, Bitch.” The song echoes the dance-pop Neptunes sound of “I'm A Slave 4 U.” It's built around a driving riff and off-kilter drums produced by Floyd Nathaniel Hills AKA Danja. Each time Britney sings “more” her voice is pitched down to a devilish growl. This disturbing vocal processing mirrors the vulgar paparazzi and public scrutiny in her personal life. On the fourth and final episode of our series Listening to Britney, we want to once again focus on her voice, how it's manipulated, how it's evolved, and where it might be going. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Listening 2 Britney: Toxic

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 22, 2022 28:44

In 2003 Britney Spears released “Toxic,” a song that would make converts out of pop skeptics, be named one of the greatest tracks of the 21st century by multiple publications, and become a personal favorite of Switched on Pop. Despite its success, when “Toxic” was released as the second single from Spears's fourth album, In the Zone, even the song's writers thought it was too “weird” to become a hit. But thanks to the new iTunes platform, which was just gaining traction in 2013, audiences kept buying the track and helped push it to the top of the charts.  For many listeners, your hosts included, hearing “Toxic” for the first time was a moment of epiphany, an opportunity to rethink one's views on the expressive power and musical invention of Top 40 pop. And almost twenty years after its release, “Toxic” is still rippling through the culture. It's been covered as a jazz-noir ballad by Yael Naim, a screamo anthem by A Static Lullaby, and a bluegrass burner by Nickel Creek. In 2022, the song enjoyed yet another revival in the form of DJ duo Altego's viral TikTok mash-up of the song with Ginuwine's “Pony.” What makes “Toxic” so enduring? For one, it's the pull of Spears' voice, as she moves from her chest voice in the verse to an eloquent falsetto in the pre-chorus, then combines the two techniques in the chorus. It's the way the song's producers, Bloodshy and Avant, combine a matrix of sounds that should not go together—a 1981 Bollywood love song, electric surf guitar, and funky synthesized bass—into an unforgettable melange. And it's the lasting power of Cathy Dennis's lyrics, which spins a universal tale of trying to resist temptation…and ultimately failing. Songs Discussed Britney Spears - Toxic Lata Mangeshkar and S. P. Balasubrahmanyam - Tere Mere Beech Mein Kylie Minogue - Can't Get You Out of My Head Katy Perry - I Kissed A Girl Yael Naim - Toxic A Static Lullaby - Toxic Nickel Creek - Toxic Mark Ronson - Toxic Altego - Toxic/Pony Mashup Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Listening 2 Britney: I'm a Slave 4 U

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 15, 2022 28:55

In the first three years of Britney Spears' pop music career, she released annual, consecutive albums. In 1999 we got Baby One More Time – its lead single was #5 on the Billboard year-end Hot 100 chart. In 2000, Oops… I did it again created multiple hits, but it's eponymous single only reached #55 on the year-end chart. Destiny's Child, Aaliyah and Janet all outperformed Britney. The sound of pop music was changing and Britney needed to change with it. So in 2001, she released her self-titled album Britney. When we hit play on our metaphorical discman, the skittering beats of “I'm A Slave 4 U” suggests a significant musical transformation. Enter Spears' Virginia Beach era.   Britney signaled that she's moved beyond the Swedish-produced pop polish for an entirely new sonic identity just as she left behind the ingenue character for the first two albums. Working with the Virginia Beach-based duo The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo), on “I'm A Slave 4 U” Spears evolved her sound to sit aside the the R&B sounds of her chart peers. Now with a soundtrack of off-kilter beats and harmonic dissonance, Spears needed a new vocal approach.  We hear this transformation in the opening line: “I know I may be young.” She begins with a breath and a half-whispered vocal. As she propels into the verse, we hear some of Britney's unforgettable tone: controlled vocal fry and rhythmic percussiveness. But there's no sign of the ballad-style singing from her earlier hits. Instead, she sing-speaks through the song. The melody is loose because as she says, “dancing's what I love - now watch me.” This is not a sing-a-long, this is a dance song and the introduction of a whole new musical era for Spears.  Songs Discussed Britney Spears – I'm A Slave 4 U, Overprotected, Don't Go Knockin' on My Door, Overprotected (Darkchild Remix), Boys Destiny's Child - Say My Name; Bills, Bills, Bills Aaliyah - Try Again Janet Jackson - Doesn't Really Matter, Son Of A Fun Mase, Diddy - Lookin' at Me Mystikal - Shake Ya Ass JAY-Z I Just Wanna Love U Nelly - Hot In Herre Selena Gomez, A$AP Rocky - Good For You Lorde - Ribs Kesha - Die Young FKA Twigs - Lights On Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Listening 2 Britney: ...Baby One More Time

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 8, 2022 29:02

On a crisp Autumn morning in 1998, the world was introduced to the voice of Britney Spears, and pop would never be the same. Britney's mix of vocal fry, percussive pronunciations, and timbral play on “...Baby One More Time” hadn't been heard before. As successful as they were, these techniques were derided by critics as parts of her manufactured “baby voice." Listening in 2022, we can hear Britney with more clarity: as a radical new artist. "...Baby One More Time" was not Britney's first turn in the spotlight. She had been cast on the Mickey Mouse Club in 1992, when she was 12 years old, executing immaculate vocals and choreography. But the voice on her first single represents a different side of the singer, and a new sound on the pop landscape. With Britney's ferocious vocals at the center, "...Baby" rocketed to number one and broke sales records. On her next release, "Oops!... I Did it Again," Spears upped the ante. Working again with producers Max Martin and Rami Yacoub, "...Oops" borrowed liberally from music across the radio dial, and added a dash of 16th-century harmony into the mix. Between her first two albums, Britney had taken hold of audiences by sheer force of personality and artistry, fought for in every syllable she sang. The stardom that followed was as unprecedented as her sound. But for someone as scrutinized as Britney has been, the artistry behind her celebrity has often been ignored. On the first episode of the four-part series Listening to Britney, we focus on Britney's voice in order to hear a pop icon with fresh ears. Songs Discussed Britney Spears - ...Baby One More Time, Oops!... I Did it Again, Stronger, Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know, Email My Heart Backstreet Boys - Larger than Life Jean-Baptiste Lully - Les Folies d'Espagne Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Chartbreakers (ft. Megan Thee Stallion and the Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 1, 2022 35:25

Presenting Chartbreakers, in which Nate and Charlie listen to the Billboard Hot 100 chart from top to bottom and discover a TikTok controversy, a Nashville music mystery, a rogue duck-billed platypus, and Megan Thee Stallion's debut piano concerto. Songs Discussed Gayle - abcdefu Muni Long - hrs and hrs Ckay - Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah) Dustin Lynch featuring Lauren Alaina or Mackenzie Porter - Thinking 'Bout You Red Hot Chili Peppers - Black Summer Megan Thee Stallion - Megan's Piano Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Leon Bridges and Khruangbin Sing a Song of Texas

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 15, 2022 34:05

Leon Bridges is the soul singer hailing from Fort Worth, Texas, who burst onto the music scene in 2015 with the album Coming Home. Since then he's established himself as an adventurous musician whose latest album Gold Diggers Sound combines retro sounds with contemporary production. Khruangbin is the Houston-based power trio——Mark Speer on guitar, Laura Lee on bass, and DJ Johnson on drums—who also debuted in 2015 with the album The Universe Smiles Upon You, which introduced their unique brand of funky, dreamy, psychedelia.  In 2020, Bridges and Khruangbin teamed up to release the EP Texas Sun, whose title track managed to channel both spaghetti western soundtracks and classic soul at the same time. Now, the quartet is back with another collaborative EP, Texas Moon, which continues the musical palette of their first release while inverting its lyrical themes.  We spoke with Leon Bridges and Khruangbin about their new EP, the Texas songs that connect them to their home state, and why they chose to go lunar for their latest project.  Songs Discussed Leon Bridges and Khruangbin - Texas Sun, B Side, Chocolate Hills Mel Waiters - Got My Whiskey Townes Van Zandt - Columbine Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Shaking Out the Numb with Sylvan Esso

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 8, 2022 30:36

The last proper, blowout concert Charlie attended was devastatingly long ago, back in the winter of 2019. Bringing some funk to buttoned-up Walt Disney Concert Hall, the duo Sylvan Esso rocked Charlie's world with epic performances of songs like “Die Young.” When live music, and the world, shut down shortly after—well, it was a great note to go out on.  Now, that moment comes full circle, as Sylvan Esso's Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn join Charlie to discuss their album, Free Love, one of the bright spots during a dark time—an album which is now nominated for best electronic/dance album in this year's Grammy cycle.  Free Love is a testament to Sylvan Esso's unique sound. If you choose, you can just listen to the intoxicating textures and move your body unconsciously. But if you listen in close, you'll find the duo blending the inquisitiveness of folk lyrics with danceable electronic beats. Each song offers layers of sounds and text to ponder, so we dove deep through Sylvan Esso's latest to better understand the secrets behind their musical alchemy.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

We *do* talk about Bruno

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 1, 2022 26:34

The number one song on the charts is a bit of a mystery. “We Don't Talk About Bruno” is the unlikely hit from Disney's sleeper animated musical Encanto. Set in a  mountainous village in Colombia, the film was a middling commercial success when it was released in Nov 2021. But in recent months it has become a pop culture phenomenon for a confluence of reasons: an expansive discourse on Colombian representation in media, fan videos on TikTok, and of course it's ear-wormy hits.  The musical is yet another notch in the belt for Lin Manuel Miranda (the auteur behind Hamilton and In The Heights) who wrote the now chart-topping song book. While Disney certainly commands vast commercial success, its musicals rarely see such crossover attention.  The last #1 Disney musical number was  “A Whole New World” from the animated Aladdin back in 1993. Where that song was literally uplifting, “We Don't Talk About Bruno” is quite the opposite.  Bruno is the uncle of the Madrigal family, whose skill for seeing the future portends gloom and sends him into exile. In his namesake song “We Don't Talk About Bruno,” an ensemble cast trade verses about his ghostly presence (Bruno haunts the family home, living inside its walls). It is an odd ball song, with dark and bizarre lyrics. Sure it starts with a story about rain on a wedding day (which is not ironic), but then it takes a hard left into tales of dead fish, middle aged weight gain, and creeping rats. So then what makes it a hit? A distinctive concoction of salsa piano rhythms, familiar Lin Manuel Miranda-isms, and contemporary pop connections to Camila Cabello, Britney Spears, J Balvin, Bad Bunny and Cardi B.  Listen to Switched On Pop to solve the mystery of what makes “We Don't Talk About Bruno” a hit.  Songs Discussed Lin Manuel Miranda - We Don't Talk About Bruno, In The Heights, Helpless, Satisfied, My Shot, Wait For It, Say No To This Cardi B, J Balvin, I Like It Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee - Despacito Camila Cabello, Young Thug - Havana Britney Spears - Baby One More Time Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

32 Albums in, Elvis Costello is Just Getting Started

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 25, 2022 34:12

Elvis Costello burst onto the music scene in 1977 with the album My Aim Is True. Songs like “Alison” established him as a powerful new voice in rock. His next album, This Year's Model, introduced hits like “Pump it Up,” which has resounded through stadiums and arenas across the country ever since.  From then on he released album after album, decade after decade, becoming a force to be reckoned with in pop music. Now, Costello has released his 32nd studio album, The Boy Named If, and it's a kaleidoscopic journey through many of the sounds and styles that he's experimented with over the years. We spoke with Elvis about his wrong notes and open-ended lyrics, his much-publicized defense of Olivia Rodrigo, and why he turned down working with Adele Songs Discussed: Elvis Costello - Farewell, OK, Magnificent Hurt, Alison, Pump It Up Richie Barrett - Some Other Guy Olivia Rodrigo - Brutal Chuck Berry - Too Much Monkey Business Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick Blues Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Accidental Kpop star Eric Nam quits the system

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 19, 2022 37:10

Eric Nam is an accidental K-pop star. Growing up in Atlanta, and graduating from college in Boston, he did not expect that in his twenties he's sign to a K-pop label, be named 2016 Man of the year by GQ Korea, and become a go-to television personality in South Korea. His music, imbued with his charisma and charm has charted globally. As fun as it is, the K-pop machine can be a real grind — it churns through young people not unlike the NFL draft. Nam is unusually candid about this experience, likely because he decided to quit the system, and take his blossoming music career independent. On his second all English full length album There And Back Again Nam has full creative control, and all the burdens of sustaining a solo music career. Nam spoke with Switched On Pop co-host Charlie Harding about what it is like to go from K-pop star to indie musician. SONGS DISCUSSED Eric Nam - Ooh Ooh, Heavens Door, Good For You, Honestly, Can't Help Myself (feat. LOCO), Lost On Me, I Don't Know You Anymore, Wildfire, Love Die Young Lee Hyori - 10 Minutes MOMOLAND - BBoom BBoom Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

The Weeknd drives through purgatory (with a little help from Jim Carrey)

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 11, 2022 37:48

Dawn FM is The Weeknd's most narratively compelling album yet. More than just a collection of eighties-nostalgia single bait, Dawn FM is a concept album that picks up on a multi-year meta narrative. Abel Tesfaye, seemingly killed off his character at the end of his last album, After Hours. Getting caught up in the “Blinding Lights” of fame and excess, the narrator ends up overdosing in the back of an ambulance. On the final song “Until I Bleed Out” he sings “I can't move, I'm so paralyzed.” Dawn FM picks up where After Hours left off. The album opens with pastoral winds and bird sounds, with The Weeknd driving down the road searching for a light at the end of a tunnel. His radio is turned to a fictional radio station: 103.5 Dawn FM hosted by The Weeknd's real life neighbor, the actor Jim Carrey. Channeled through the Vaporwave inspired production of Oneohtrixpoint Never, Dawn FM is the sound of purgatory. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Why do new Christmas songs fail?

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 21, 2021 26:34

Why are there no new Christmas songs? One one hand, there's more holiday songs than we'll ever need. Every year pop stars drop countless holiday-themed album. But despite the annual glut of Christmas releases, few of these new songs join the rotation of holiday classics. On Billboard's Holiday Hot 100 chart right now, there's only four songs from the past ten years that have made it to the top fifty. We listen to each of these holiday hits—from Kelly Clarkson, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and the Jonas Brothers—and and ask if these songs can go the distance and become the 21st century members of the Christmas music canon. Songs Discussed - Playlist Kelly Clarkson - Underneath the Tree Ariana Grande - Santa Tell Me Justin Bieber - Mistletoe Jonas Brothers - Like It's Christmas The Bird and the Bee - You and I at Christmas Time Loretta Lynn - White Christmas Blue Woody Goss - One for One Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - 8 Days of Hannukah Jenny Owen Youngs, Tancred, John Mark Nelson - Fireside Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Tai Verdes TikTok-ed his way to a breakout hit

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 14, 2021 31:27

Whether you're a TikTok fanatic, or the app's K-hole-inducing stream of content has forced you to delete it from your phone, its influence on music is undeniable. In 2020 the platform bragged that over 70 artists on the platform signed with major labels. TikTok's success was linked to pandemic-related stay-at-home orders -- people were stuck at home and musicians couldn't tour. And while trending dances and songs on TikTok may turn over weekly, with a billion monthly users, the social media platform has industry power. In 2021, Billboard's Hot 100 was overflowing with TikTok hits -- over 175 according to the company -- more than twice that of last year.  While major artists like J Balvin and Taylor Swift use the platform, TikTok's algorithm is surprisingly good at exposing aspiring artists. Take Tai Verdes for example. While working his day job at the Verizon store. Ty set his mind on using TikTok to launch his musical career. When he released a video singing his song “Stuck In The Middle” in his Prius, millions saw him for the first time. Tai's music has since been heard at Lollapalooza and on Top 40 radio. But like so many overnight successes, he built it up over years of practice and creative releases. If you want to know how social media has fundamentally changed music, you need to hear Tai's Verdes tell his story to Switched On Pop's Charlie Harding. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raise The Roof

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 7, 2021 31:37

Robert Plant is in his own words “cold” and “prickly” while speaking about his new album with Alison Krauss, Raise The Roof. First thing upon joining the Zoom call from London, Plant jovially launches into the much misattributed quote “talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” But he is neither callous, nor coy. For Plant the music is ineffable, a joyous celebration of friendship, and a kindred love of song that he shares with Krauss and producer T-Bone Burnett. Their album follows up from their 2007 Grammy award winning album Raising Sand. Both albums are steeped in americana and roots music, favorites that the trio traded across the Atlantic over many years of friendship. There are few hints of Plant's Led Zeppelin or Krauss' Union Station. Instead their collaboration sounds timeless, haunting and melancholic. Their idiosyncratic sound emerged from an entirely organic process, a method that both parties are happy to share, but reticent to analyze. Switched On Pop's co-host Charlie Harding spoke with Plant and Krauss about the making of Raise The Roof.  SONGS DISCUSSED - Spotify Playlist Robert Plant, Alison Krauss - Quattro (World Drifts In), The Price of Love, Go Your Own Way, Trouble With My Love, Can't Let Go, It Don't Bother Me, You Led Me To The Wrong, Last Kind Words Blues, High and Lonesome, Going Where The Lonely Go, Somebody Was Watching Over Me Calexico - Quattro (World Drifts In) The Everly Brothers - The Price of Love Anne Briggs - Go Your Own Way Bert Jansch - Go Your Own Way Sandy Denny - Go Your Own Way Led Zeppelin - The Battle of Evermore Betty Harris - Trouble With My Love Lucinda Williams - Can't Let Go Bert Jansch - It Don't Bother Me Ola Belle Reed - You Led Me To The Wrong Geeshie Wiley - Last Kind Words Blues  Merle Haggard - Going Where The Lonely Go Pops Staples - Somebody Was Watching  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

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

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