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Switched on Pop

Switched on Pop

By Vulture

A podcast all about the making and meaning of popular music. Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work magic on our ears & our culture. From Vulture and the Vox Media Podcast Network.


The Art of Flow (with DJ Jazzy Jeff) ICYMI

In hip-hop, what draws us to an artist is not just the content of their lyrics but how they deliver them. Along with tapping your foot to the rhythm, understanding something called “flow” is essential to understanding hip-hop as a whole. In this episode of Switched On Pop, we interview genre icon DJ Jazzy Jeff on the concept of flow: what it is, how it applies to all music – not just hip-hop – and how any rapper’s flow can be analyzed under his guidelines. Taking his word for it, we put our magnifying glasses on to look at the bars of our favorite rappers, from Megan thee Stallion to Babytron. Songs Discussed: The Notorious B.I.G. - Big Poppa Mary J. Blige - Family Affair A Tribe Called Quest - The Hop Danger Mouse, Black Thought - Aquamarine BabyTron - Crocs & Wock’  RXKNephew - Take Three JID - Better Days (feat. Johnta Austin) Megan Thee Stallion - Not Nice Megan Thee Stallion - Cocky Af Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/09/23·35m 28s

Doja Cat’s Satanic Suite

For the first time in 2023, a rap song is at number one on Billboard's Hot 100: Doja Cat's “Paint the Town Red.” It’s her second number one single after the disco inspired “Say So.” But the ubiquitous and lighthearted bop didn’t accurately reflect Doja’s divisive persona, an extremely online meme lord, and sometimes troll, with a history of riling up internet controversy.  Doja Cat recently called out her fans for their parasocial obsessiveness, losing 250k instagram followers in the process. Simultaneously, religious conservatives have accused her of Satanism for her playful use of illuminati imagery at her 27th birthday bash. But rather than recoil, Doja Cat is clapping back at criticism by embracing the devil.  On “Paint the Town Red” she’s following the playbook of Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” and Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ “Unholy,” all of which use demonic imagery to spark religious controversy while also commenting on artists’ indiscretions and the hellish nature of the attention economy. In her satanic suite — “Paint The Town Red,” “Demon,” and “Attention” — Doja Cat’s turns online flame wars into musical gold.  More Listen to The Allusionist with Helen Zaltzman, the best and funniest podcast about language Read the history of the loon sample on Pitchfork by Philip Sherburne Songs Discussed: Doja Cat - Paint The Town Red Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby Lil Nas X - MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) Sam Smith - Unholy (feat. Kim Petras) Doja Cat - Say So Doja Cat - Kiss Me More (feat. SZA) Doja Cat - Woman Doja Cat - Demons Daddy Yankee - Gasolina Kelis - Milkshake Kendrick Lamar - HUMBLE. Bernard Herrmann - A Narrative for String Orchestra (From "Psycho") [Arr. J. Mauceri] John Williams - Main Title/John Williams/Jaws - From The "Jaws" Soundtrack Lil Nas X - MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) Doja Cat - Attention 808 State - Pacific 202 Nicki Minaj - Anaconda Calvin Harris - Prayers Up (feat. Travis Scott & A-Trak) Dionne Warwick - Walk on By Doja Cat - Paint The Town Red - Slowed Down & Sped Up Doja Cat - Vegas (From the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack ELVIS) Beyoncé - Naughty Girl Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
19/09/23·39m 44s

Jimmy Buffett: Next Year in Margaritaville

When Jimmy Buffett died on the first day of September, 2023, musicians from Paul McCartney to Pitbull mourned the death of the "Margaritaville" singer. This surprised Nate and Charlie, because frankly, they had never listened deeply to Buffett's work before, and viewed him more as a branding genius than a great musician. How wrong were your faithful podcast hosts. Jimmy Buffett was no novelty act or one-hit wonder. He found a precise combination of yearning lyrics, hip modulations, and singable melodies that produced a collection of songs that questioned the fantasy of Island Life as much as they celebrated it. Journey with us across the seas of Buffett's artistry as we listen for everything we might have missed about this unique musical icon. Songs Discussed Jimmy Buffett - Margaritaville, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Why Don't We Get Drunk, Come Monday, Fins, A Pirate Looks at 40, My Gummie Just Kicked In Harry Belafonte - Will His Love Be Like His Rum? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
12/09/23·36m 55s

Beyoncé's 'Renaissance' Era ICYMI

In case you missed it, 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: Listen on Spotify: Listen elsewhere: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
05/09/23·30m 54s

Olivia Rodrigo’s Good Ideas

Everyone seems to be getting Olivia Rodrigo wrong. She's one of the few pop stars who has made it big in the current era of fragmented music streaming, but so much of the narrative has been about whose songs she's stealing from, whether it be Taylor Swift, Elvis Costello or Paramore. Rodrigo's new album Guts arrives next Friday: while we wait patiently, we take a close listen to her new singles "vampire" and "bad idea right?" to subvert the narrative. These songs show that she isn't stealing from pop music, but rather uses a deep repertoire of musical predecessors to write very crafty music. Songs discussed: Olivia Rodrigo – vampire Olivia Rodrigo – bad idea right? Olivia Rodrigo – driver's license Olivia Rodrigo – brutal Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Pump It Up Olivia Rodrigo – good 4 u Paramore – Misery Business Olivia Rodrigo – deja vu Taylor Swift – Cruel Summer Radiohead – Creep Scala & Kolacny Brothers – Creep Lana del Rey – Get Free David Bowie – Space Oddity Elvis Presley – That's When Your Heartaches Begin Roy Orbison – Oh, Pretty Woman Talking Heads – And She Was The Breeders – Cannonball Liz Phair – Supernova Wet Leg – Chaise Longue The Beatles – Twist And Shout Rage Against The Machine – Killing In The Name Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29/08/23·31m 35s

Wonders: "Stacy's Mom" and Adam Schlesinger

In 2003, amidst a bunch of bleak alternative rock bangers like “Numb” by Linkin Park and “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence, a rock song stood out on the charts for its fantastic hooks and juvenile sense of humor. “Stacy’s Mom” turned the New Jersey band Fountains of Wayne into MTV mainstays and Grammy nominees. But while they continued to release music, tour the country, and maintain a devoted fanbase, they never reached the same level of fame again. Most people never looked further than the raunchy music video, but Fountains of Wayne released six albums across two decades, each filled with tracks of quirky, clever, and undeniably catchy power pop. And the writer of that song, FOW bassist Adam Schlesinger, had a rich and fascinating career behind the scenes in film, TV, and more. In this episode of Switched on Pop, we explore the history of “Stacy’s Mom”, a perfectly crafted pop song that stands as a testament to the brilliance of a musician whose career was cut tragically short. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
22/08/23·30m 46s

The mid-career crises of Travis Scott and Post Malone

Right now, the two biggest records in the country come to us from two of hip-hop’s biggest superstars: Travis Scott and Post Malone. Both artists have been releasing mainstream records for nearly a decade; their records UTOPIA and AUSTIN, respectfully, sit at number one and two on the Billboard 200. But going further than the numbers, these albums signify a shift in these artists’ sounds, moving them out of their usual genres into previously uncharted territory in both of their careers. And as this is Post Malone’s fifth record and Travis Scott’s fourth, we also must ask: what does it mean to be a mid-career artist? Songs discussed: Travis Scott – HYAENA Post Malone – Mourning Travis Scott, Teezo Touchdown – MODERN JAM Post Malone – Chemical Madonna – Borderline Madonna – Ray of Light Madonna – Don’t Tell Me Kendrick Lamar – m.a.a.d. city Kendrick Lamar – For Free? – interlude Travis Scott, Swae Lee, Chief Keef – Nightcrawler Travis Scott, Yung Lean – PARASAIL Travis Scott, Kid Cudi – LOOOVE  Kanye West – I Am A God Gentle Giant – Proclamation Travis Scott, Beyoncé – DELRESTO (ECHOES) Post Malone – White Iverson Post Malone, 21 Savage – rockstar Post Malone – Overdrive Pixies – Where Is My Mind? Semisonic – Closing Time Post Malone – Something Real Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/08/23·36m 11s

Song Camp 2: Electric Boogaloo! (with Alex Tumay, Wolftyla, Nicholas Petricca, Grace VanderWaal)

Part two of the secret world of song camps looks at the different roles in a songwriting session. There are producers who sit behind a console desk or computer and record, arrange and craft the instrumental and track the vocal. Often they double as engineers who use their technical knowledge to select mics, set up signal chains, and ensure the best recording. Then there is the topliner, a singer who generates melodies on the fly, throwing ideas at the instrumental, looking for the best hooks. Often the top liner is also a songwriter who crafts chords and lyrics to fit the topline melody. And then there is of course the artist who performs the piece.  These roles aren’t always clearly divided - most musicians have multiple skills. But for the sake of understanding how each role is essential to creating a song, we asked four musical luminaries to embody one of these roles and break it down: producer/engineer Alex Tumay, topliner Wolftyla, Songwriter and Walk the Moon frontman Nicholas Petricca and Artist Grace VanderWall. This conversation happened live at the College of Performing Arts at The New School as part of Anti Social Camp 2023, the largest song camp in the world that is working to revive to the NYC songwriting scene.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/08/23·34m 55s

The secret world of songwriting camps

Beginning in the nineties, pop songwriters have traveled to a 13th-century castle in the south of France for what’s come to be known as a “song camp” – a place where songwriters and collaborators can hunker down and spend a week together writing the next big hits. The castle’s owner Miles Copeland, former manager of The Police, brought songwriters to this far-flung location for a dose of creativity, and yielded massive success through the process: artists like Celine Dion, Britney Spears and Miranda Lambert have all benefited from songs stemming from these retreats. Over the last fifteen years, song camps have exploded in popularity from Peter Coquillard’s Bali Invitational, to Rihanna’s $200k LA camp, to the Anti Social Camp: a NYC-based event and the world’s largest songwriting retreat. This episode of Switched On Pop, we take a look at the secret world of song camps, and even manage to be a fly-on-the-wall in a camp with songwriter Nicholas Petricca of Walk The Moon, Julia Cumming of Sunflower Bean, engineer Will Campbell and producer Andrew Maury.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
08/08/23·34m 5s

Your cursive singing is tearing this family apart!

Recently while scrolling twitter we saw a clip from American Idol of judge Katy Perry admonishing an auditioner on the show to “Enunciate!” The video went viral because of Perry’s incensed reaction, but also because the contestant’s performance of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” offered a crystalline example of a popular style of singing that has produced reactions of love and—like for Perry—hate.  It’s a style that features elongated vowels, clipped consonants, and runaway phrasing associated with contemporary singers like Halsey, Jorja Smith, and Shawn Mendes, and like many things in the 21st century it got its name from a tweet—specifically by the user @trackdroppa who boasted in 2009, “Voice so smooth it’s like i’m singing in cursive” In this episode we speak to vocal coaches and journalists to to ask: Where did this cursive style come from? What are the vocal techniques used to create this sound? And why does cursive singing create so much backlash? Songs Discussed Shawn Mendes - Stitches Zooey Deschanel, M. Ward - Winnie the Pooh Mick Jagger - Strange Game Selena Gomez, A$AP Rocky - Good For You Frank Zappa, Moon Zappa - Valley Girl Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse - Valerie benny blanco, Halsey, Khalid - Eastside  Jorja Smith - Teenage Fantasy Tones And I - Dance Monkey Sia - Cheap Thrills Corinne Bailey Rae - Put Your Records On Blink-182 - All The Small Things SZA - Kill Bill More Ashaala Shanae Jumi Akinfenwa Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/08/23·31m 4s

Barbie and the plasticity of pop

This past week, the film Barbie opened nationwide to massive success – and with it came a soundtrack, executive produced by Mark Ronson. Functioning as both a companion to the movie and a stand-alone collection of hits, the album features everyone from Dua Lipa to reggaeton star Karol G to K-Pop group FIFTY FIFTY. This episode of Switched on Pop, we take a look at the singles from the soundtrack and see how well they embody the ethos of Barbie: plastic and all.  Check out our 2021 interview with Mark Ronson (about Ginuwine’s “Pony”) here. We reference “vibe snatching” in this episode. Take a listen to our episode breaking down the phenomenon here. For more on Billie Eilish’s “No Time to Die,” check out our Bond episode from October 2021 here. Songs Discussed:  Dua Lipa – Dance The Night Billie Eilish – What Was I Made For? PinkPantheress – Angel FIFTY FIFTY, Kaliii – Barbie Dreams Janet Jackson – Together Again FIFTY FIFTY – Cupid The Cardigans – Lovefool Charli XCX – Speed Drive Billie Eilish – No Time To Die Aqua – Barbie Girl Nicki Minaj, Ice Spice, Aqua – Barbie World Karol G, Aldo Ranks – WATATI Jul – My World Ludacris, Wiz Khalifa, Jeremih, Cashmere Cat – Party Girls Ava Max – Not Your Barbie Girl Ava Max – My Head & My Heart A Touch Of Class – Around the World (La La La La La) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/07/23·46m 20s

How Louis Armstrong invented the modern pop star

In 1964, Louis Armstrong knocked the Beatles off the top of the charts with his recording of “Hello, Dolly!” becoming, at age 62, the oldest artist to ever hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Sixty years later, Louis Armstrong remains a beloved cultural figure, his oft-imitated voice still instantly recognizable. But Armstrong is more than a source of levity — his artistry and innovations when he made his first recordings a century ago in 1923 set the template for the modern pop star. On this centennial episode, hear Armstrong as you’ve never heard him: a defiant, pathbreaking musician whose voice resonates in every hit record.  Songs Discussed Louis Armstrong - Hello, Dolly! King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band - Dippermouth Blues Fletcher Henderson & His Orchestra - Sugar Foot Stomp Louis Armstrong & His Hot Seven - Potato Head Blues, West End Blues, Big Butter And Egg Man, Heebie Jeebies Louis Armstrong - Ain't Misbehavin', Dinah, I'm a Ding Dong Daddy (From Dumas), Black And Blue, Swing That Music Bing Crosby, The Mills Brothers - Dinah The Boswell Sisters - Heebie Jeebies Ella Fitzgerald - Mack The Knife - Live At The Deutschlandhalle, Berlin, 1960 Joey Ramone - What a Wonderful World Ghostface Killah - The Forest Jon Batiste - What A Wonderful World More Read Terry Teachout’s brilliant biography of Armstrong, Pops Visit the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, NY Listen to Lil Hardin Armstrong’s 1968 interview with Chris Albertson for Riverside Records Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/07/23·33m 13s

Speak Now (about Taylor's versions)

Taylor Swift is currently the most streamed artist in the world as she’s commandeered the media as she embarks on her Eras tour around the globe. It's likely to be the highest grossing tour of all time, crossing $1B in sales. What’s more, she’s just released her 6th studio album since 2020, and her 3rd re-recording of her older material called Taylor’s Versions. She famously got in a spat with the new owner of her master recordings. She decided to take back control with her own hands and voice, creating mostly true-to-the-original updates alongside a smorgasbord of bonus material. First there was Fearless from 2008, then Red from 2012 and now Speak Now the last of her more country leaning albums having originally arrived in 2010. Switched On Pop listens to Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) for whats is and isn’t working musically, how the re-recordings are fairing, and where this ambitious project may go next. Joining the conversation is Lauren Michele Jackson American cultural critic, assistant professor of English and African American studies at Northwestern, author of White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue ... and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation and a contributing writer to the New Yorker in her review of Taylor Swift’s midnights said “I’ve always maintained that Swift is incapable of writing a bad song.” MORE Pop Pantheon: Checking in on Taylor Swift's Re-Recordings So Far (with Charlie Harding, Larisha Paul & Nora Princiotti) SONGS DISCUSSED Taylor Swift - Fearless, Red, Speak Now, Never Grow Up, The Story Of Us, Sparks Fly, Mine, Mean, Superman, Karma, Better than Revenge, Electric Touch, Castles Crumbling, When Emma Falls in Love, I Can See You, Back, To December, Last Kiss Def Leppard - Pour Some Sugar On Me Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/07/23·46m 17s

My Beyoncé Ticket Cost $4,000: Why the Touring Industry Might Be Broken – Into It with Sam Sanders

Us at Switched On Pop are off on vacation, but don't fret – this week we're still bringing you an episode, courtesy of the Vulture podcast Into It with Sam Sanders. If you've openly wondered why concert tickets seemingly have gotten more confusing and expensive, this episode's for you. – Content creator and head of the Beyhive Kalen Allen is more than OK spending four thousand dollars on one ticket for Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour. 2023 feels like a big year for huge stadium tours for artists like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, Ed Sheeran and more. But why are tickets so expensive, and how much are fans willing to put up with in order to go? Sam talks with music journalist Nate Rogers about why the touring industry might just be broken and what lawmakers and some artists are trying to do to fix it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/07/23·25m 18s

What makes a gay anthem?

Vulture might have killed the song of the summer back in 2016, but if you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s hard to argue against “Padam Padam” by Kylie Minogue. The track, released this May, has taken the queer community by storm, quickly becoming ubiquitous and inescapable – it's hard to even scroll on Twitter without a well-timed meme about the "padam-ic" popping up on the timeline. However, Minogue's song hasn't even cracked the Billboard Hot 100; instead, its status has morphed into that of a "gay anthem," a song widely celebrated inside the community but unable to garner longstanding success outside of it. This episode of Switched on Pop, producer Reanna Cruz tackles a question that the LGBTQ+ community has debated over for decades: what makes a gay anthem? Through talking with everyone from academics to their close friends, the answer takes us from Judy Garland to 1920s cabaret to, of course, "Padam Padam." Songs Discussed: Kylie Minogue – Padam Padam Édith Piaf – Padam padam Kylie Minogue – Supernova Mischa Spoliansky – Das lila Lied (The Lavender Song) Queen – I Want To Break Free Lady Gaga – Born This Way London Philharmonic Choir – Amazing Grace Traditional – God Save The King Queen – We Are The Champions Tom Robinson Band – Glad to be Gay Diana Ross – I'm Coming Out Judy Garland – Alone Together (Live At Carnegie Hall/1961) Countess Luann – Chic C'est La Vie Judy Garland – The Trolley Song Lady Gaga – La Vie En Rose Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy Village People – Y.M.C.A. Sylvester – You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) Miquel Brown – So Many Men, So Little Time Depeche Mode – Never Let Me Down Again The Weather Girls – It's Raining Men Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
27/06/23·35m 49s

Switches Brew: blink-182, Kate Bush, BewhY, The Pointer Sisters, Saint Levant

Another installment of Switches Brew the show where you get to hear from the larger team Switched On Pop team and community about what we're listening to old and new. With recommendations from editor Jolie Myers, producer Reanna Cruz, and listeners Micah Salkind and JT. Songs Discussed Saint Levant - Nails BewhY - Adaptation The Pointer Sisters - Dare Me, I'm So Excited, Jump Junior Jack - Stupidisco blink-182 - Man Overboard, What's My Age Again? All The Small THings White Poppy - Orchid Child Odyssey - Native New Yorker Kate Bush - The Morning Fog Spencer Zahn, Dave Harrington, Jeremy Gustin - A Visit To Harry's House Cicada Ensemble - Murmuration Clip Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/06/23·26m 32s

Chartbreakers: Mexican regional y más

As summer comes upon us, it’s time for some Billboard shake ups. On this week’s edition of Chartbreakers, we’re looking at the recent iterations of the Hot 100 and a trend that has slowly been creeping up in popularity over the past few months: the influx of regional Mexican music. The past two years have seen many songs by Mexican artists making their way onto Billboard, all managing to highlight different scenes and sounds from the different states in Mexico.  We’re joined this week by the cohost of the NPR Music podcast Alt. Latino, Anamaria Sayre, who says that Mexican regional, or simply, regional, is a marketing “bucket term” that encompasses different Latin genres including everything from norteño to corridos, all genres that are comfortably finding a home in the top 20 of the Hot 100 in 2023. Of course, there’s more happening outside of Latin music. Much of the chart has been stagnant since our last iteration of Chartbreakers, but, as always, there’s been some shake ups thanks to the world of the TikTok sped-up remix, the legacy artist, and on some occasions, a mix of both (we’re looking at you, Miguel). Songs Discussed: Eslabon Armado, Peso Pluma – Ella Baila Sola Bizarrap, Peso Pluma – Peso Pluma: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 55 Grupo Frontera, Bad Bunny – un x100to Fuerza Regida – TQM Grupo Frontera, Fuerza Regida – Bebe Dame Los Tigres del Norte – Prisión De Amor Chalino Sanchez, Banda Brava – Alma Enamorada Chalino Sanchez, Los Amables Del Norte – El Crimen De Culiacán Ramon Ayala y Sus Bravos del Norte – Solo Una Patada Grupo Firme, Junior H – Tronando Ligas Banda MS de Sergio Lizárraga – Que Bendición DannyLux – Mi Otra Mitad Natanael Cano – Pacas De Billetes Miguel – Sure Thing FIFTY FIFTY – Cupid Lana del Rey – Say Yes to Heaven Taylor Swift, Ice Spice – Karma (ft. Ice Spice) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
13/06/23·44m 56s

Listening 2 Daft Punk: Random Access Memories

In the song "Touch" from Daft Punk's final studio album, 2013's Random Access Memories, featured artist Paul Williams sings a line that augured the end of an impressive collaboration: "I need something more." With RAM, Daft Punk pulled out all the stops, going the opposite direction of their previous albums, to "give life back to music" and bestow hearts and souls upon their robotic doppelgängers. RAM features almost no samples or programmed digital instruments, instead leaning into extensive collaborations with legendary studio musicians, iconic producers like Nile Rodgers, and modern mavens such as Pharrell. The making of RAM followed the blueprint of classic albums from what Daft Punk called "the golden age" of recording—Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Pink Floyd. The duo spent over a million dollars, held five years of studio sessions, and painstakingly crafted each track. The result was a record that helped usher in a retro disco-funk revival across pop music and generated a smash hit in "Get Lucky." The band had perhaps crafted their magnum opus—but did it also represent the conclusion of their epic narrative of the battle between human and machine? Songs Discussed Daft Punk - Give Life Back to Music Daft Punk - Lose Yourself to Dance (feat. Pharrell Williams) Daft Punk - Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers) Daft Punk - Giorgio by Moroder Eagles - Hotel California Daft Punk - Contact The Sherbs - We Ride Tonight Daft Punk - The Prime Time of Your Life Daft Punk, Paul Williams - Touch (feat. Paul Williams) Thomas Bangalter - Mythologies: X. L'Accouchement Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
06/06/23·36m 59s

Listening 2 Daft Punk: Human After All / Alive 2007

Throughout their legendary career, Daft Punk continued to prove that the more robotic their music became, the more human they sounded. This dichotomy came to a head on their third album, aptly titled Human After All. Where their past two records wired their circuits and gave the robots a voice, on Human After All, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo gave Daft Punk sentience. On Human After All robots rock, but they also question their rigid programming. The record's ensuing tour and resulting live album, Alive 2007, furthered the narrative by ushering in a new age of live electronic performance. The impact of these two records range from the development of EDM to everlasting hits like “Technologic.” On episode three of our Listening 2 Daft Punk series, we take a look at these two records, and how both Alive and Human After All imbued the robots with super intelligence. Songs Discussed Daft Punk - Human After All Daft Punk - The Prime Time of Your Life Daft Punk - Robot Rock Breakwater - Release the Beast Daft Punk - Steam Machine Daft Punk - The Brainwasher Black Sabbath - Iron Man Daft Punk - Technologic Daft Punk - Emotion John Williams – Wild Signals Daft Punk – Touch It / Technologic Daft Punk – Oh Yeah Daft Punk – Technologic Busta Rhymes – Touch It Daft Punk – Around the World / Harder Better Faster Stronger Daft Punk – Face to Face / Short Circuit Daft Punk – Da Funk / Daftendirekt Kanye West – Stronger Kanye West – On Sight Daft Punk – Human After All / Together / One More Time / Music Sounds Better With You Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/05/23·39m 42s

Listening 2 Daft Punk: Discovery

Daft Punk’s first album laid the groundwork for their robot personas, with four to the floor beats, programmed drum machines, and sequenced synthesizers. On their second album Discovery, Daft Punk fully lean into the artificial – singing through robotic vocoders that correspond with their now-iconic robot helmets. But in there is a paradox, explored on episode 2 of Listening to Daft Punk: the more machine the robots become, the more human the music sounds. Songs Discussed Daft Punk - One More Time Daft Punk - Teachers Daft Punk - Aerodynamic Sister Sledge - Il Macquillage Lady AC/DC - Thunderstruck Laurie Anderson - O Superman Daft Punk - Revolution 909 Kraftwerk - Autobahn Kraftwerk - The Robots Earth, Wind & Fire - Let's Groove Herbie Hancock - I Thought It Was You Zapp - More Bounce to the Ounce Stevie Wonder - 1-2-3 Sesame Street Cher - Believe Kid Rock - Only God Knows Why Barry Manilow - Who's Been Sleeping In My Bed Daft Punk - Superheroes Edwin Birdsong - Cola Bottle Baby Electric Light Orchestra - Evil Woman Daft Punk - Face to Face Daft Punk - Something About Us Daft Punk - Voyager Daft Punk - Veridis Quo Daft Punk - Superheroes Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams - LYTD (Vocoder Tests) [feat. Pharrell Williams] Daft Punk - Digital Love Daft Punk - Crescendolls Eddie Johns - More Spell On You George Duke - I Love You More Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
23/05/23·36m 51s

Listening 2 Daft Punk: Homework

Ten years ago, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories gave life back to music. The world-beating smash “Get Lucky” broke streaming records, forged a retro sound that still dominates the charts, and paved the way for artists like The Weeknd, Dua Lipa and Lizzo to craft their own throwback hits. How did Daft Punk do it? Switched On Pop’s four part-mini series Listening 2: Daft Punk unlocks the sounds, voices, and stories across all four of the group’s studio albums. On their first album, Homework, Daft Punk stretched the boundaries of electronic music and began wiring the circuits that would become their robot alter-egos, asking a fundamental question: where does the human end and the machine begin? Songs Discussed ​​Daft Punk - Give Life Back to Music Daft Punk - Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers) The Beach Boys - Darlin' Daft Punk - Around the World Daft Punk - Harder Better Faster Strong Daft Punk - Robot Rock Daft Punk - Game of Love Daft Punk - Da Funk Daft Punk - Teachers Black Box - Ride on Time Daft Punk - Daftendirekt Daft Punk - Fresh Daft Punk - High Fidelity Daft Punk - Oh Yeah Daft Punk - Phoenix Daft Punk - Rollin' & Scratchin' Daft Punk - Rock'n Roll Daft Punk - Burnin' Kraftwerk - The Robots Vangelis - Main Titles Brad Fiedel - Main Title - The Terminator Ben Salisbury, Geoff Barrow - The Turing Test Daft Punk - TRON Legacy (End Titles) Daft Punk - Indo Silver Club Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/05/23·37m 45s

The Jonas Brothers' Yacht Rock Revival

After nearly two decades as a band the Jonas Brothers are staking their claim to a magnum opus by calling their next album, quite simply, The Album (out May 12). The project follows the success of their 2019 comeback project Happiness Begins — which blended polished pop sounds with ‘70s funk breaks and produced the No. 1 single “Sucker” — with a focus on the smooth sounds of yacht rock. Switched On pop co-host Charlie Harding spoke with Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas in March 2023, during their five night broadway run, in anticipation for the release of The Album.   Songs Discussed Jonas Brothers - Wings, Waffle House, Montana Sky, Summer Baby, Before the Storm Daryl Hall & John Oates - She's Gone, Wings Kenny Loggins - Meet Me Half Way Steely Dan - Reelin' In The Years Stevie Wonder - Higher Ground Michael Jackson - The Way You Make Me Feel, Leave Me Alone The Doobie Brothers - Takin' It to the Streets, Minute By Minute Thundercat, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins - Show You The Way Michael McDonald - I Keep Forgettin' Steve Miller Band - Fly Like An Eagle Eagles - Take It Easy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/05/23·39m 12s

From Westeros-techno to trance metal: Eurovision 2023

It’s May, and that can only mean one thing: it’s time for the Eurovision Song Contest. This year’s edition of the international-but-primarily-in-Europe competition features a uniquely eclectic group of songs (per usual), from a take on electro-flamenco, to Game of Thrones EDM, to a previous winner’s return to the Eurovision stage. On this episode, Charlie and Nate look at the six songs bookmakers are looking at to lead the pack of this year’s entries. Songs Discussed: Alessandra – Queen of Kings Deadmau5 – Right This Second Gabry Ponte, R3HAB, Timmy Trumpet – Call Me  La Zarra – Évidemment Édith Piaf – Non, je ne regrette rien Claude François – Alexandrie Alexandra Blanca Paloma – EAEA TVORCHI – Heart of Steel Kalush Orchesta – Stefania Käärijä – Cha Cha Cha Kraftwerk – Radioactivity Alice Deejay – Better Off Alone Metallica – 72 Seasons Loreen – Tattoo Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/05/23·28m 34s

Who killed the key change in pop music?

When trouble strikes in music town, there’s one guy who gets the call. That’s me, Joe Treble, forensic musicologist. This week, I've got one of the most shocking cases I've ever worked. Someone killed the key change in pop music, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to find the perpetrator. The key change used to be at large on the Billboard charts. From the 1950s to the 1990s, 20-30% of all number one hits featured one. In Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody," the key change hits right before the final chorus. The song’s harmonic center shifts up, raising the pitch of the song, challenging the vocalist to hit higher and higher notes, juicing the big finish with excitement and pep. But starting in the 1990s the key change virtually disappeared from the Hot 100. Now, hit songs start and end in the same key, and no one seems to have even noticed. Except for me. This investigation will bring me face to face with a rogue's gallery of suspects and sources: Chris Dalla Riva, music and data specialist; Brandon McFarland, alias 1-O.A.K., producer; Emily King, singer and songwriter. Each interrogation brings me closer to revealing the murderer, but will I be able to handle the terrible truth? Tune in as I tackle the hardest case of my career: the case of the missing key change! Songs Discussed Emily King - Georgia Sleepwalker, Medal, The Way that You Love Me YG, Kamaiyah, RJ, Mitch, Ty Dolla $ign - Do Yo Dance (feat. Kamaiyah, RJ, Mitch, Ty Dolla $ign) Beyoncé - Love On Top Bon Jovi - Livin' On A Prayer Whitney Houston - I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me) Frank Sinatra - Strangers In The Night Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/04/23·33m 7s

A.I. Drake has put music in a tailspin

We have an emergency podcast drop because the biggest and fastest moving story on the internet right now is about a song called “Heart On My Sleeve.” The track sounds like it was made by the producer Metro Boomin featuring Drake and The Weeknd. It might be one of the most consequential songs in music history because it was actually a fake, made with artificial intelligence. The blowback from this song has been enormous and a bit confusing. So host Charlie Harding went on The Vergecast podcast to break down how this song was likely made, and what it might mean for the music industry, the tech industry and all of our intellectual property.  Listen to the whole episode on The Vergecast Read Alex Cranz's story on Laser Bongs on The Verge Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/04/23·37m 14s

BTS goes solo together

The South Korean idol group BTS is one of the biggest musical sensations in history. They're constantly breaking records and they have one of the most dedicated fan bases in the world known as Army. Their hit singles like “Boy With Love,” “Dynamite,” and “Butter” have been discussed on the show in the past for breaking through the US charts. But back in 2022, they decided to take a break from group activities and start releasing solo material because of their obligations to each fulfill mandatory military service in South Korea, precluding them from working together at the same time. Solo projects aren’t new for the group – BTS members have released mixtapes as far back as 2015 and countless solo singles – but this was the first time that BTS had ever announced a prolonged break. This moment, originally presented as a hiatus, has evolved into a whole new musical chapter for the group, with a seemingly endless array of new solo releases. Switched On Pop listens back to one track from each solo effort so far to introduce the casual listener to what is happening in this new era of BTS. Joining the show is Lenika Cruz, senior editor at The Atlantic, who literally wrote the book on BTS, simply called On BTS out on the Atlantic Editions imprint. Songs Discussed: j-hope, J. Cole - on the street Jimin - Like Crazy RM, Youjeen - Wild Flower Agust D - People Pt.2 Agust D - People Jung Kook - Dreamers JIN - The Astronaut BTS - Singularity, Inner Child Coldplay, BTS - My Universe Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/04/23·49m 0s

This Generation's Caroline Polachek

From the first seconds of her latest album Desire, I Want to Turn Into You, Caroline Polachek asserts that she is truly a once-in-a-generation artist. From her work in the indie band Chairlift to years of behind-the-scenes songwriting, she has worked hard over years to build a stellar music career – culminating in the pop opus Desire, already one of the best rated albums of 2023. On this episode of Switched on Pop, we look at Polachek’s career thus far, and talk to her about the intricacies of her latest. Songs Discussed Caroline Polachek - Desire, I Want To Turn Into You Caroline Polachek - So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings Chairlift - Bruises Ramona Lisa - Dominic Beyoncé - No Angel Danny L Harle, Caroline Polachek - Ashes of Love Charli XCX, Caroline Polachek - Tears CEP - Lilian’s Pavilion Caroline Polachek - Pretty in Possible Suzanne Vega - Tom’s Diner DNA remix Caroline Polachek - Welcome to my Island Caroline Polachek - Bunny Is A Rider Caroline Polachek - Smoke Caroline Polachek - Crude Drawing of An Angel Caroline Polachek - Butterfly Net Caroline Polachek - Sunset  Caroline Polachek - Fly To You Caroline Polachek - Hopedrunk Ever Asking Caroline Polachek - Billions Caroline Polachek - Blood And Butter Caroline Polachek - Butterfly Net Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/04/23·43m 52s

The Shakira Conspiracy

Shakira is back on the Billboard Hot 100 – thanks to the help of Argentinian producer Bizarrap. Together, their song “Shakira: BZRP Music Sessions, Vol. 53,” is layered with musical and lyrical references, from the callbacks to “She Wolf” to the multiple beat switches. It also works to play into something larger: something akin to a pop music conspiracy. On this episode of Switched On Pop, we take a closer look at Shakira’s latest, and how it’s indicative of a larger metatextual shift in pop music.  Songs Discussed: Shakira, Bizarrap – Shakira: BZRP Music Sessions, Vol. 53 Shakira – Vuelve Alanis Morrisette – Not The Doctor Shakira – Whenever, Wherever Shakira, Alejandro Sanz – La Tortura Shakira, Wyclef Jean – Hips Don’t Lie Shakira – She Wolf The Weeknd – Blinding Lights Giorgio Moroder – Palm Springs Drive LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem Pascal Letoublon – Friendships Beyoncé – Sorry Taylor Swift – All Too Well Olivia Rodrigo – Driver’s License Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/04/23·31m 5s

Reinventing Bach

If you’ve ever learned classical piano, you probably tried to play one of Bach’s Inventions. The composer wrote fifteen pieces containing the most important fifteen keys in order to teach his son the fundamentals of piano and composition. Today, they remain some of the most popular pieces of piano music. Acclaimed jazz pianist Dan Tepfer recently revisited his childhood music books seeing them in a way he’d never realized as a student: the Inventions are much more than novice piano works. For Tepfer, each of the Inventions not only highlight masterful command over harmony and counterpoint, but also contain moving character arcs that resemble the hero’s journey. A character is introduced at home in place of safety in act I. And then they are thrust into chaos and must overcome unsurmountable challenges in Act II. Finally, in Act III, our hero overcomes their final battle and returns home transformed by the journey. Once Tepfer heard this character arc, he started to apply it to his own free improv. Through studying Bach, Tepfer conceived a new album: Inventions / Reinventions. In this project Tepfer fills in the missing keys from the Bach to complete all twenty four keys (there are twelve major and twelve minor keys) while updating the music with modern improvisation. In this conversation Tepfer walks co-host Charlie Harding through his process of playing Bach and applying it to jazz improv. Listen to Dan Tepfer’s Inventions / Reinventions on StorySound Records Listen to Into It with Sam Sanders on Fair Use Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/03/23·40m 0s

100 gecs and the new sound of hyperpop

Everyone will describe the music of 100 gecs differently. To some, Dylan Brady and Laura Les make deeply satisfying earworms, tracks able to scratch the itches that occupy the deepest memory-holed corners of the brain. To others, though, their music is an "anarchic assault on the ears,” a quilt of all of the genres historically ridiculed in the popular canon: nu-metal, scuzz-rock, ska and 90’s pop punk are all fair game in the world of gecs. On their latest record, aptly titled 10000 gecs, Brady and Les double down on the crunchy distortion and harmonics, creating tracks equally influenced by Primus and Eddie Van Halen as they are by their hyperpop contemporaries. The album reflects a Internet-core approach to music as a whole, shedding notions of “good” and “bad” music in favor of catchy melodies and intricate song construction.  On this episode on Switched On Pop, we dig deep into the ethos of 100 gecs, and producer Reanna Cruz talks to the duo themselves about their eclectic sophomore record. Songs discussed:  100 gecs – Hollywood Baby 100 gecs – Billy Knows Jamie 100 gecs – stupid horse 100 gecs – 745 sticky 100 gecs – Doritos & Fritos Primus – Jerry Was A Racecar Driver Ween – Bananas and Blow Limp Bizkit – My Generation Gorillaz – Dirty Harry Future – I Been Drinking J-Kwon – Tipsy Justin Timberlake – Summer Love Violent Femmes – Added Up 100 gecs – Dumbest Girl Alive THX Deep Note Cypress Hill – Insane in the Membrane 100 gecs – The Most Wanted Person in the United States 100 gecs – Frog on the Floor Alan Jackson – Chattahoochee Limp Bizkit – Dad Vibes Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/03/23·39m 18s

Switches Brew

Every week the Switched On Pop team gets together and everybody shares one song they’re loving right now. It is one of our favorite conversations each week because we hear music that is new and old, on and off the charts. We’re sharing that conversation with you as a new format we’re calling Switches Brew alongside friend of the show Brittany Luse, host of NPR's It's Been A Minute Listen to Brittany Luse on NPR’s It’s Been A Minute: Web, Apple, Spotify Songs Discussed Little Freddie King - Messin' Around tha House De La Soul - Tread Water Nick Hakim - Qadir Lana Del Rey - Born to Die (Marcus Intalex Remix) on Bandcamp Madison Cunningham - Hospital (One Man Down) (feat. Remi Wolf) Remi Wolf - Down the Line Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/03/23·24m 19s

Modern Classics: Seal - Kiss From a Rose

“Kiss From a Rose” is one of the most unusual number one hits of all time. Seal’s song can’t decide if it’s in minor or major, it uses an old-fashioned waltz rhythm, and its lush orchestration and elaborate vocal harmonies support mysterious lyrics about a “greying tower alone on the sea.” Seal himself wasn’t sure about the song, and needed some convincing to include the composition on his 1994 album SEAL II. But once director Joel Schumacher decided to use the track for the end credits of the film Batman Forever, the song went global and has remained a cultural phenomenon ever since. Ahead of his upcoming 30th anniversary tour for the albums SEAL I and SEAL II, we speak with the singer and songwriter about the enduring appeal of “Kiss From A Rose.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/03/23·37m 12s

How John Denver got huge in Asia

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” is a song about West Virginia, but its message of homecoming has resonance far beyond Appalachia. Songwriter and producer Ian Fitchuk found this out when he was requested to perform Denver’s music at a music festival in Tibet. Fitchuk discovered that Denver has a huge following in East and South East Asia, where Denver toured multiple times from the 70s through the 90s. Denver’s songs first came to the region through the US Armed Forces Network radio as well as a diplomatic performance for China’s leader Deng Xiaoping at the Kennedy Center in 1979. Denver performed alongside the Harlem Globetrotters and the Joffrey ballet, and he left such an impression, the show led to an invitation to be one of the first western musicians to tour China. To better understand Denver’s meaning in the region, Switched On Pop co-host Charlie Harding speaks with Ian Fitchuk about his performance and interviews journalist Jason Jeung who wrote about “Country Roads” in The Atlantic. Songs Discussed John Denver - Take Me Home, Country Roads Kacey Musgraves - Oh, What A World The East Is Red John Denver - Rocky Mountain High Creedence Clearwater Revival - Fortunate Son James Taylor - Carolina in My Mind Carpenters - (They Long To Be) Close To You John Denver - Thank God I'm a Country Boy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/03/23·33m 14s

Chartbreakers: Jersey Club, Complicated Country, and 50s Crooners

Currently on Billboard’s hot 100 there is an unexpected UK Garage / Jersey House mashup, a disgraced country star making a questionable comeback, and an out of nowhere fifties ballad all jockeying for their moment on the charts. This week, we take a listen to the FEBRUARY 25, 2023 Hot 100, looking for triumphs, fumbles, and oddities. Songs Discussed PinkPantheress, Ice Spice - Boy's a liar Pt. 2 Ice Spice - Munch (Feelin’ U) Drake - Currents Lil Uzi Vert - Just Wanna Rock Sweet Female Attitude - Flowers - Sunship Edit Todd Edwards - Wishing I Were Home Ice Spice - In Ha Mood Morgan Wallen - You Proof Morgan Wallen - Last Night Tyler Childers - Way of the Triune God - Jubilee Version Mac DeMarco - Heart To Heart Miguel - Sure Thing Metro Boomin, The Weeknd, 21 Savage - Creepin' (with The Weeknd & 21 Savage) Mario Winans - I Don't Wanna Know Fugees, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, Pras - Ready or Not Enya - Boadicea Stephen Sanchez - Until I Found You The Everly Brothers - Let It Be Me Ritchie Valens - We Belong Together The Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody Patsy Cline, The Jordanaires - Crazy Ray Charles - Georgia on My Mind - Original Master Recording The Beatles - In My Life - Remastered 2009 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/02/23·30m 34s

Five years later, the legacy of Nipsey Hussle's "Victory Lap"

Five years ago, Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle released Victory Lap, his only full length album. It was the high point of a career stretching back to the mid 2000s, when Hussle started releasing mixtapes on his own record label — mixtapes that brought him respect from artists like Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar, but were not widely heard.  Victory Lap brought him both the critical acclaim and commercial success he deserved — It hit #2 on the Billboard 200, and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Album. But only a little over a year after its release, Hussle was shot to death outside his clothing store and community center in Crenshaw. In some ways, Hussle’s tragic end has overshadowed his incredible life as a musician and community activist. In this conversation with Justin Tinsley, host of the podcast King of Crenshaw, we listen deeply to Victory Lap to hear Nipsey’s identity as an artist and consider the legacy of his debut album on its 5th anniversary. Songs Discussed Nipsey Hussle - Victory Lap, Dedication, Hussle and Motivate, Last Time That I Checc'd, Real Big Arctic Monkeys - Knee Socks Jay-Z - Hard Knock Life Snoop Dogg - Y'all Gone Miss Me More Listen to the King of Crenshaw podcast. Check out more of Justin's work Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
22/02/23·35m 37s

“Flowers” and the art of the response song

“Flowers” by Miley Cyrus is spending another week on top of the Billboard 100 – quite fitting for Valentine’s Day. The disco-country track has gotten people talking for a few reasons, but most notably, Cyrus invokes Bruno Mars’ classic “When I Was Your Man” in both lyrical and melodic allusions. The connection between the two songs is not one of interpolation, but rather, Miley is responding to Bruno’s hit through her own words: making “Flowers” an answer song.  This episode of Switched On Pop, we take a deeper look at “Flowers” and how it fits in the canon of response songs throughout history, from classics like “This Land is Your Land” to Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda.”  Songs Discussed:  Miley Cyrus – Flowers Kacey Musgraves – High Horse Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive Dua Lipa – New Rules Bruno Mars – When I Was Your Man Ed Sheeran – Shape of You TLC – No Scrubs Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg – California Girls JAY-Z, Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind Big Mama Thornton – Hound Dog Rufus Thomas – Bear Cat Hank Thompson – The Wild Side of Life Kitty Wells – It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels Ray Charles – Hit the Road, Jack Nina Simone – Come on Back Jack The Chantels – Well, I Told You UTFO – Roxanne, Roxanne Roxanne Shanté – Roxanne’s Revenge UTFO – The Real Roxanne New Edition – Candy Girl The Jackson 5 – ABC Sir Mix-A-Lot – Baby Got Back Nicki Minaj – Anaconda Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/02/23·39m 47s

Rihanna Party! ICYMI

In case you missed it, “Rihanna Is The 21st Century’s Most Influential Musician” according to NPR. Millions and millions of fans the world over agree, and while we try to avoid overt expressions of pop favoritism, we think they’ve got a strong case. It’s for that reason and a dozen others that we were thrilled to welcome Gina Delvac of the hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend back to the show to discuss the legendary career of one Ms. Robyn Rihanna Fenty. As we all await her ninth studio album (R9), join us for a virtual* blunt-smoke-laced tour through the hit songs that defined her early sound, and a delectable deep dive into her most recent album, ANTI. MORE CONTENT Check out Jenny Gathright’s NPR article “Rihanna Is The 21st Century’s Most Influential Musician.” And find even more work from our wonderful contributors this week down below: Gina Ivie Zoe Cate Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
12/02/23·54m 26s

The L.A. guitar shop that reinvented indie folk

In 2010, a photographer named Reuben Cox moved to Los Angeles to start Old Style Guitar Shop. In the years since, the instruments that he continues to repair and sell have come to define the sound of the LA indie folk scene among artists like Blake Mills, Andrew Bird, Madison Cunningham, Ethan Gruska and Phoebe Bridgers. Reuben’s guitars are Frankenstein-esque creations, cobbled together from spare parts and neglected guitar bodies found in flea markets and estate sales. The sounds that these make, though, are as eccentric as their source: the strings are laid on top of Reuben’s signature, a rubber bridge. This sound, and the mythos of the rubber bridge guitar, has turned Reuben into a local celebrity and put Old Style at the center of Los Angeles’s indie music scene. In this episode of Switched on Pop, host Charlie Harding explores that sound and the man behind it all. Songs Discussed (playlist) Taylor Swift - champagne problems Olivia Rodrigo - hope ur ok boygenius - Emily I’m Sorry Jenny Owen Youngs - Vampire Weeknight Andrew Bird - The New Saint Jude Marcus Mumford - Only Child Perfume Genius - Slip Away Andrew Bird - Underlands Madison Cunningham - Anywhere Madison Cunningham - Life According to Raechel Phoebe Bridgers - Garden Song Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/02/23·36m 5s

A History of Whammies at the Grammys - Into It with Sam Sanders

It's Grammys weekend and Sam Sanders, host of Vulture's Into It podcast, is ready for disappointment! Sam is joined by Switched on Pop's Charlie Harding and Reanna Cruz to break down the Grammys' history of tone deafness when it comes to the night's biggest awards. Will Beyoncé lose Album of the Year again... or will the voting body finally give her her due? Subscribe to Into It: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/02/23·24m 45s

Wonders: Bobby McFerrin

In 1988, Bobby McFerrin recorded a song a cappella with a simple message: not to worry, and just enjoy life. That song, aptly titled “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” topped the charts and become one of the most well known one-hit wonders of all time.  In doing so, it also propelled McFerrin into the spotlight, winning him three Grammy awards and an eternal place in pop culture. His career, though, is more than just the Big Mouth Billy Bass: a deep dive reveals an incredible career in jazz, folk, and classical music as well as a remarkable command of his own voice. This episode of Switched on Pop, we explore the history behind "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and the ensuing legacy of Bobby McFerrin. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
31/01/23·34m 49s

The New Wave of Paramore

Six years after their last record, Paramore is back with new music, and their upcoming record seems to have an uncanny connection to the era of new wave. But what is “new wave” anyway? Is it just a period of time in music or something more?  In this episode of Switched on Pop, we explore some of the tracks from This is Why, out February 10th, and connect them to the works of everyone from Talking Heads to Joy Division. Songs Discussed Paramore – C’est Comme Ça Olivia Rodrigo – good 4 u Paramore – Misery Business Paramore – Ain’t It Fun Paramore – Pool Paramore – This Is Why Talking Heads – I Zimbra Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime Siouxsie and the Banshees – Happy House The B-52’s – Dirty Back Road Gang of Four – Cheeseburger Oingo Boingo – Just Another Day DEVO – Uncontrollable Urge Paramore – Hard Times Les Rita Mitsouko – C’est comme ça Talking Heads – Psycho Killer Selena Gomez – Bad Liar Paramore – The News Joy Division – Disorder Blondie – The Thin Line Blondie – The Tide Is High The Police – So Lonely Paramore – Pressure Paramore – Told You So Boy Harsher – LA  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/01/23·34m 23s

Taylor Swift and the music industry's next $20

Streaming feels like it's both at its height and on a precipice. Musicians are fed up at getting paid fractions of a penny, and the whole business model seems precarious. Switched On Pop co-host Charlie Harding was talking about the challenges for streaming future with my friend Nilay Patel, editor in chief of The Verge and host the podcast Decoder - a show about big ideas. And they taped a conversation about what’s next for streaming through the case study of Taylor Swift who has deftly navigated the transition from CDs to streaming, and whose era tour may mark the end of an era in music.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/01/23·1h 22m

SZA's Endless Melody

Why does SZA's latest album SOS hit different? It's the way her melodies don't repeat where you expect them to, defying all the rules of pop songwriting. We break down how her endless melodies echo the intimate themes of her most recent release, and how they connect to genres ranging from gospel to Wagnerian opera. Songs Discussed SZA - Kill Bill, SOS, Shirt, Notice Me, Seek & Destroy, Gone Girl, Low, Smoking on My Ex Pack, Ghost in the Machine (ft Phoebe Bridgers), F2F Sam Smith & Kim Petras - Unholy Taylor Swift - Anti-Hero Jazmine Sullivan - Girl Like Me (ft H.E.R.) Summer Walker - No Love (ft. SZA) Jessye Norman - Isoldes Liebestod Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/01/23·29m 51s

Too Fast? We’re Curious: The sped-up remix phenomenon

Over the past few months, you may have heard your favorite song pop up on the Internet – just slightly faster. You’re not alone: the phenomenon of the “sped-up” remix has taken over social media, with everyone from Lady Gaga to Thundercat getting the tempo treatment. The popularity of the craze has led to millions of TikTok videos, Billboard number ones, and songs becoming relevant again, decades after release. Ever since the proliferation of these “remixes,” the big questions remain: where did these songs come from and why are they here?  On this episode of Switched on Pop, we explore this exact phenomenon, tracing its roots from Thomas Edison to Cam’ron to vaporwave to nightcore. Songs Discussed: “Dream On” – Aerosmith (sped up) “Escapism” – RAYE, 070 Shake (sped up) “Bad Habit” – Steve Lacy (sped up) “Miss You” – Oliver Tree (sped up) “Say It Right” – Nelly Furtado (sped up) “Bloody Mary” – Lady Gaga (sped up) “Heat Waves” – Glass Animals (slowed down) “Juicy” – Notorious B.I.G.  “Juicy” – DJ Screw “Jolene” – Dolly Parton (slowed down) “リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー |” – Macintosh Plus “In Da Club Before Eleven O’ Clock” – DJ Rashad “Monster [Nightcore]” – Meg & Dia, remixed by Barren Gates  “Concrete Angel” – Hannah Diamond “Witch Doctor” – David Seville “Oh Boy” – Cam’ron, Juelz Santana “Cool for the Summer” – Demi Lovato (sped up) “Them Changes” – Thundercat (sped up & Chopnotslop remix) “That’s All” – Genesis Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/01/23·28m 52s

ICYMI 90s Music Canon

Matt Daniels, editor of the publication The Pudding, wanted to find out what songs from his youth would last into the future. So he designed a study that would test if Gen-Z had a grip on 90s culture. Hundreds of thousands of participants provided over 3 million data points. Daniels parsed through the data for insights. Sadly, the majority of his most beloved songs have not survived even one generation. Though most had been forgotten, he found that just a few songs had staying power across generations — what he defined as the emerging 90s music canon. Find out what songs make it and which have fallen to the wayside.  MORE The Pudding’s study on Defining the 90s Canon Take The Pudding’s quiz yourself SONGS DISCUSSED Spice Girls - Wannabe  Mariah Carey - Fantasy! Lou Bega - Mambo #5 Los Del Rio - Macarena Boys II Men - Motown Philly Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You Savage Garden - I Want You The Barenaked Ladies - One Week Jewel - You Were Meant For Me Jennifer Lopez - If You Had My Love Celine Dion - My Heart Will Go On Britney Spears - Baby One More Time Smash Mouth - All Star Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/01/23·38m 4s

ICYMI: We *do* talk about Bruno

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
27/12/22·27m 49s

Anitta & Rosalía on the borders of Latin pop

When it comes to distinguishing what exactly Latin music is, what makes the cut? To some, it’s simply music from the Latin American region, and to others, it’s any music that is sung in Spanish – but much like the pop canon, the phrase encapsulates so many different eras, styles, and genres. Like any distinction, there’s also music on the periphery: specifically, the music of Brazil, where the sounds are similar but the main language is different, and Spain, where the history of colonization looms over the country’s relationship with Latin America, raising controversial questions of appropriation.  Nonetheless though, music from both countries has made big waves amongst U.S. listeners on Latin radio stations and at award shows. Anitta’s record Versions of Me has been finding success on streaming and the radio, while Rosalía’s MOTOMAMI has become one of the most acclaimed records of the year, winning this year’s Album of the Year award at the Latin Grammys. This episode of Switched on Pop, we take a look at these artists and how they incorporate both native and Latin sounds in their tracks. Vote for the Signal Awards: SONGS DISCUSSED:  Anitta – Girl From Rio Rosalía – DESPECHÁ Anitta, Ty Dolla $ign – Gimme Your Number MC Marcinho, DJ Marlboro – Glamourosa (Rap Glamurosa) M.I.A. – Bucky Done Gun Anitta, Papatinho, MC Kevin o Chris, Mr. Catra, YG – Que Rabão Anitta – Envolver Karol G – PROVENZA Rosalía – MALAMENTE - Cap.1: Augurio Rosalía – BULERÍAS Rosalía – DELIRIO DE GRANDEZA Justo Betancourt – Delirio De Grandeza Tego Calderon – Al Natural Rosalía – SAOKO Wisin, Daddy Yankee – Saoco Rosalía – CHICKEN TERIYAKI Rosalía – DIABLO Rosalía, TOKISCHA – LA COMBI VERSACE Rosalía, The Weeknd – La Fama Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/12/22·27m 2s

How Bad Bunny won 2022

For Switched On Pop’s end of year coverage, we just have one superlative: who won 2022? The answer, of course, is Bad Bunny. This year alone, the prolific Puerto Rican artist has topped charts worldwide, became Spotify’s most streamed artist globally, and his record Un Verano Sin Ti has obtained many accolades including being the first Spanish-language album nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammys. The record itself serves as a textbook to the sounds of Latin America: over the course of 23 songs, we’re introduced to bachata, dembow, cumbia, merengue, bomba, and of course, reggaeton. This episode, alongside LA Times journalist Suzy Exposito, we unpack Un Verano Sin Ti and why the album is so important, both for Bad Bunny and the Latin diaspora. Vote for the Signal Awards: Songs Discussed: Bad Bunny – Callaita Bad Bunny – Diles Cardi B, Bad Bunny, J Balvin – I Like It N.O.R.E., Daddy Yankee, Nina Sky, Gemstar, Big Mato – Oye Mi Canto Ruben Blades – Plástico Bad Bunny – Después de la Playa Bad Bunny – Tití Me Preguntó Bad Bunny – El Apagón Héctor Lavoe, Fania All Stars – Mi Gente - Live Omega – Si Te Vas Aventura, Don Omar – Ella Y Yo Nando Boom – Ellos Benia Dem Bow Daddy Yankee – Gasolina El General – Tu Pun Pun Shabba Ranks – Dem Bow El Alfa, CJ, Chael Produciendo, El Cherry Scom – La Mamá de la Mamá Bad Bunny – Me Fui de Vacaciones Bad Bunny, Bomba Estéreo – Ojitos Lindos Stan Getz, João Gilberto, Astrud Gilberto – The Girl From Ipanema Bad Bunny – Si Veo a Tu Mamá Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
13/12/22·34m 57s

The soft sounds of Kali Uchis (live from Vulture Fest)

Through crafting a unique, cross-cultural sound, Kali Uchis has emerged as one of indie music’s most promising talents. From playing in jazz band as a kid to collaborating with Bootsy Collins and Kaytranada, the Grammy Award-winning artist has managed to take her bilingual, one-of-a-kind music to the Billboard charts while still keeping her DIY ethos. At this year’s Vulture Fest live in Los Angeles, host Charlie Harding talked with Uchis about her career, her songcraft and her two upcoming albums: one in Spanish and one in English.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
06/12/22·32m 3s

Why do new Christmas songs fail?

In case you missed it last year: 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
29/11/22·27m 49s

The Art of Flow

In hip-hop, what draws us to an artist is not just the content of their lyrics but how they deliver them. Along with tapping your foot to the rhythm, understanding something called “flow” is essential to understanding hip-hop as a whole. In this episode of Switched On Pop, we interview genre icon DJ Jazzy Jeff on the concept of flow: what it is, how it applies to all music – not just hip-hop – and how any rapper’s flow can be analyzed under his guidelines. Taking his word for it, we put our magnifying glasses on to look at the bars of our favorite rappers, from Megan thee Stallion to Babytron. Songs Discussed: The Notorious B.I.G. - Big Poppa Mary J. Blige - Family Affair A Tribe Called Quest - The Hop Danger Mouse, Black Thought - Aquamarine BabyTron - Crocs & Wock’  RXKNephew - Take Three JID - Better Days (feat. Johnta Austin) Megan Thee Stallion - Not Nice Megan Thee Stallion - Cocky Af Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
22/11/22·36m 43s

Willow Smith rocks harder

Coping Mechanism, Willow's new album, is her heaviest music yet. Charlie and Willow chat about the making of the new record and the many multitudes of rock music. Music Discussed The Anxiety - Meet Me At Our Spot Willow - Maybe It's My Fault, UR Town, Human Leach, PrettyGirlz, Lipstick, Why, Breakout, Hover Like a Goddess, Curious/Furious, Ur A Stranger Yungblood - Memories (with Willow) Deftones - Sextape Radiohead - I Will Straight Line Stitch - What You Do To Me Killswitch Engage - My Curse Lamb of God - Redneck Primus - Lacquer Head Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/11/22·26m 1s

The Sound of Sapphism

Tegan & Sara and King Princess have found themselves placed under the banner, "sapphic pop," a term recently coined referring to music by and/or for sapphics (a.k.a. women or femme folks attracted to other femme folks). Journalist Emma Madden defines the folk-inspired sound as having a “soft tactile approach” that’s “more sensual than it is sexual.” This umbrella folds in everyone from indie pop veterans Tegan & Sara to nonbinary artists like King Princess; even artists like Hozier and Sufjan Stevens are, improbably, considered sapphic pop, with their music having the same sonic qualities of other songs dedicated to feminine yearning. From articles popping up in multiple news outlets to the majority of Taylor Swift’s openers for this upcoming tour (looking at MUNA, girl in red, and Phoebe Bridgers, specifically), the terminology of “sapphic pop” has come to define a scene almost out of nowhere. This week on Switched On Pop, we explore exactly what sapphic pop is, where it came from, and how artists feel about it – even asking Tegan & Sara and King Princess directly. You can listen wherever you get podcasts. Songs discussed Clairo – Sofia King Princess – Talia girl in red – i wanna be your girlfriend Hozier – Cherry Wine (live) Alex G – Sarah The Velvet Underground – I Found A Reason Sufjan Stevens – To Be Alone With You Cris Williamson – Shine On Straight Arrow Jaylib, Madlib, J Dilla – The Red Taylor Swift – betty Brittany Howard – Georgia MUNA, Phoebe Bridgers – Silk Chiffon Tegan & Sara – Call It Off Tegan & Sara – Smoking Weed Alone King Princess – 1950 King Princess – I Hate Myself, I Want To Party King Princess – Pussy is God Kate Bush – Why Should I Love You? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
08/11/22·33m 45s

Scary Pockets funkify pop classics (with Lizzy McAlpine)

Scary Pockets is the musical collective that has been transforming pop classics into funk anthems for over half a decade. Each week they release a new cover on YouTube featuring razor-sharp instrumentalists and a rotating cast of virtuosic lead singers. Amazingly, each of their 200-plus covers is arranged on the fly, in a span of about 90 minutes—capturing the talent and spontaneity of a group of musicians at the top of their game. We here at Switched on Pop were struck by the band's ability to infuse familiar songs with syncopation and backbeat, and rack up millions of views in the process, so we reached out to Scary Pockets's leaders—guitarist Ryan Lerman and keyboardist Jack Conte—to arrange for Nate and Reanna to be flies on the wall during their creative process. After documenting the behind-the-scenes dialogue that led to a slow-burning interpretation of the Bee Gees's 1977 classic "Staying Alive," we called up Ryan, Jack, and the song's lead vocalist, Lizzy McAlpine, to hear their insights on making a song that everyone knows sound fresh and unfamiliar  Songs Discussed Bee Gees - Staying Alive (Scary Pockets Cover) Paul McCartney and Wings - Arrow Through Me (Scary Pockets Cover) Beatles - Maxwell's Silver Hammer Coldplay - Fix You (Scary Pockets Cover) Parcels - Tieduprightnow Bill Withers - Just the Two of Us (Scary Pockets Cover) Justin Bieber - Peaches (Lizzy McAlpine Cover) More on Scary Pockets Watch the video of Scary Pockets and Lizzy McAlpine covering "Staying Alive" See them LIVE with David Ryan Harris & John Scofield, November 16 at Echoplex in Los Angeles! Tickets Subscribe to their YouTube Channel: Merch Store: Patreon: Listen on Spotify: Scary Pockets Instagram: @scarypockets  Musician Credits: Vocals: Lizzy McAlpine BGVs: Sophia James, Arielle Kasnetz Guitar: Ryan Lerman, Will Graefe Wurlitzer & Synth: Jack Conte Bass: Travis Carlton Drums: RJ Kelly Audio: Engineered & mixed by Caleb Parker Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/11/22·33m 45s

Up late with Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’

A Taylor Swift album is just not a collection of new music, it’s an exploration of a theme. For the last eight years, each release has embodied a single idea. Reputation marked a turn to the dark side, Lover a return to the light, and her pair of albums Folklore and Evermore painted acoustic, fictional landscapes. Each album propels fans to find covert lyrical connections to her personal life, and easter eggs to past compositions. Whereas Swift's pop star contemporaries have focused their energies on becoming business moguls, Swift has gone deeper into songwriting and receiving accolades in the process. In September 2022, the Nashville Songwriting Association International awarded Swift the Songwriter of the Decade award. In her acceptance speech she says, “writing songs is my life’s work and my hobby and my never-ending thrill.” Now she continues that thrill collaborating with her frequent producing partner and friend of the show, Jack Antonoff, on Midnights, her 10th studio album (not counting her recent “Taylor’s version” re-recordings of past releases). On Midnights Swift builds a lyrical and sonic world that takes place across “13 sleepless nights.” Nate and Charlie listen closely to hear how she constructs this late night feeling.   More Nate’s article on “Taylor Swift and the Work of Songwriting” for the Contemporary Music Review Journal John Hull's Soundfly course on Advanced Synths and Patch Design for Producers Music Discussed: Taylor Swift - Anti-Hero, Lavender Haze, Maroon, Question, Snow On the Beach, Mastermind, Bejeweled, Vigilante Shit, Labyrinth, Midnight Rain, You’re On Your Own Kid, You Belong With Me, Stay Kevin “Reese” Saunderson - Just Want Another Chance Ray “Renegade” Keith - Terrorist P.A. Mix Burial - Archangel  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/10/22·38m 17s

Steve Lacy brings bedroom pop to the Billboard top

It’s the song that launched a thousand TikTok videos – or over 500,000 to be exact: Steve Lacy’s “Bad Habit.”  The track is a smooth, psychedelia tinged ode to yearning, currently spending its third week on the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Lacy is an artist dedicated to shifting form and convention, from his records with alternative R&B band The Internet to his productions for artists like Mac Miller and Vampire Weekend. Even in his solo work, his songs are unpredictable, deftly moving through genre in the vein of artists like Prince and Stevie Wonder.  “Bad Habit” specifically, though, is rooted in the genre of bedroom pop, a scene slowly gaining mainstream traction. With this track, Lacy is taking the sound that’s seeped through TikTok and Spotify to the top of the charts. On this episode of Switched On Pop, we dig deep into Lacy's career and his ability to craft immaculate melodies. Songs Discussed: Steve Lacy, “Bad Habit” Sam Smith, Kim Petras, “Unholy” The Internet, “Dontcha” The Internet, “Special Affair” The Internet, “Palace/Curse (feat. Tyler, The Creator & Steve Lacy) Steve Lacy, “C U Girl” Steve Lacy, “Dark Red” Steve Lacy, “Only If” Steve Lacy, “Like Me” Steve Lacy, “Playground” Steve Lacy, “Static” Stevie Wonder, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/10/22·34m 51s

Why it hurts to release a record (with Sylvan Esso)

Earlier this year, the members of Sylvan Esso took a gamble, making their "most free and wild and strange" album yet: No Rules Sandy. And to add to the overall theme of lawlessness, Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn decided to do something equally as free and radical: they decided to forgo the typical multi-year album cycle as well as a standard promo campaign. While wrapped in what Amelia calls a “PR cocoon,” she began to think about the less tangible aspects of the album rollout process, and wanted to enlist other musicians (as well as Switched On Pop) in exploring certain aspects of what it means to be an artist to answer the question: why does it hurt to release records? Songs Discussed Sylvan Esso - Your Reality Sylvan Esso - Cloud Walker Sylvan Esso - Didn’t Care Sylvan Esso - Look At Me Sylvan Esso - How Did You Know Sylvan Esso - Sunburn MUNA - Number One Fan MUNA - Silk Chiffon MUNA - What I Want Bartees Strange - Heavy Heart Bartees Strange - Co Signs Bartees Strange - Hennessy Wilco - Cruel Country Maggie Rogers - Alaska Maggie Rogers - That’s Where I Am Maggie Rogers - Anywhere with You Maggie Rogers - Want Want Maggie Rogers - Begging for Rain Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/10/22·47m 40s

Santigold sings Spirituals

After a four-year hiatus – and a name drop on a Beyoncé remix – musical polymath Santigold is back with a brand new album. Known for her signature blend of genre-defying songcraft, the artist’s fourth studio album Spirituals is one of her most artistically challenging projects yet. It’s another venture into what she does best: addressing heavy themes through toe-tapping melodies. From Nate’s personal favorite, 2016’s “Can’t Get Enough of Myself,” to “My Horror,” a pan-genre sonic vision has always been present in her career. On this episode of Switched On Pop, Santigold speaks about her new record, being a mother, and the emotions that went into making Spirituals.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/10/22·26m 36s

The future of music pt I

In part 1 of our Vergecast: Future of Music series, Alex Cranz talks with Switched on Pop's Charlie Harding about the trends in music today that make new songs out of old material, and whether it's foreshadowing the future of pop. Further reading: Selena Quintanilla Will Sound Older on Her New Posthumous Album Michael Jackson songs removed from streaming services to 'move beyond' fake vocals controversy Shred with Green Day, with some help from AudioShake Invasion of the Vibe Snatchers Music discussed: Como Te Quiero Yo A Ti - Selena My Way - Frank Sinatra I'll Be Seeing You - Billie Holiday We Can't Stop - Miley Cyrus bad guy - Billie Eilish Through The Wire - Kanye West Breaking News - Michael Jackson Real Love - The Beatles Free As A Bird - The Beatles 2000 Light Years Away - Green Day Betty (Get Money) - Yung Gravy Genius of Love - Tom Tom Club Fantasy - Mariah Carey Big Energy - Latto I'm Good (Blue) - David Guetta, Bebe Rexha Bang Bang - Rita Ora, Imanbek Higher Love - Kygo, Whitney Houston Don't Start Now - Dua Lipa Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
27/09/22·33m 53s

Lady Gaga & The Pequeños Monstruos

After an enlightening experience at Lady Gaga's Chromatica Ball, producer Reanna Cruz takes a look at the connection between Gaga's music and the Latin sounds she's engaged with over the years, from traditional rancheras to the rhythm of reggaeton. Songs discussed: Lady Gaga, “Alejandro” Ace of Base, “Don’t Turn Around” ABBA, “Chiquitita – Spanish Version” Madonna, “La Isla Bonita” Rihanna, “Te Amo” Vittorio Monti, Sarah Nemtanu, Chilly Gonzales, “Csárdás” Lady Gaga, “Americano” Rosemary Clooney, The Mellomen, “Mambo Italiano (with the Mellomen)” Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, “Despacito” La Flavour, “Mandolay” Lady Gaga, “Dancin’ In Circles” Alejandro Fernández, “Como Quien Pierde una Estrella” Pedro Fernández, “Yo…El Aventurero” Lola Beltran, “Cucurrucucu Paloma” War, “Cinco de Mayo” Santana, The Product G&B, “Maria Maria (feat. The Product G&B)” Lady Gaga, “Dancin’ In Circles” Justin Bieber, “Sorry” French Montana, Swae Lee, “Unforgettable” Tego Calderon, “Pa’ Que Retozen” Rosalia, J Balvin, “Con Altura” Juan Gabriel, “Abrázame Muy Fuerte” Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, “Rain On Me” Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Arca, “Rain On Me – Arca Remix” Lady Gaga, “Fun Tonight” Lady Gaga, Pabllo Vittar, “Fun Tonight – Pabllo Vittar Remix” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/09/22·32m 40s

Invasion of the Vibe Snatchers

Why do so many songs sound familiar? Because the number of chart topping interpolations — songs built off of old hits — has roughly doubled in the five years. It’s everywhere, you can’t escape because many people are embracing it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
13/09/22·26m 55s

Into It: Song of Summer 2022

Who had the song of the summer? Sam Sanders chats with Switched on Pop's Charlie Harding and Reanna Cruz about whose song (and album) is in the running: Beyoncé, Bad Bunny, Lizzo, or Kate Bush?  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
06/09/22·17m 9s

Learning to love the Killers (maybe)

Are you like Nate? Is there one artist that, every time you hear them, you can't help it—you start to grimace, sweat, seethe. You can't explain it, but there's something about them that you just. can't. stand. For Nate, that band is the Killers. Lots of people love this band, they've been around for almost two decades, they're practically an institution! So why can't he get past his hang up? Charlie and Reanna step in to help break down what it is about the Killers that rankles their normally open-eared colleague so, and then step back to consider what it is that makes us think we hate the bands we do—and whether we can change those opinions. Songs Discussed The Killers - Human, All These Things That I've Done, When You Were Young, Mr. Brightside, Deadlines and Commitments, Where the White Boys Dance, boy, Shot at the Night, The Man, Tranquilize Ariana Grande and Zedd - Break Free Erasure - A Little Respect Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/08/22·32m 47s

K-Pop Chartbreakers: BLACKPINK, Girls’ Generation, NewJeans, IVE

A lot has happened in the world of Kpop this summer, from Girls’ Generation sugar coated banger “Forever 1” marking a triumphant return from a five year hiatus, to the ascendance of newcomers NewJeans, whose R&B infused sounds have quickly taken over the charts. But it's the return of BLACKPINK that has lit up the world literally in pink. Get a full deep dive on the songs at the top of the Kpop charts on the latest episode of Switched On Pop, where hosts Charlie Harding and Nate Sloan speak with journalist Kristine Kwak. Songs Discussed Psy, SUGA - That That J-hope - MORE BLACKPINK - Pink Venom Girls’ Generation IVE - LOVE DIVE NewJeans - Attention SWV - I’m So Into You Rihanna - Pon De Replay Missy Elliot - Work It 50 Cent - Just A Lil Bit Taylor Swift “Look What You Made Me Do” Panjabi MC, JAY-Z - Mundian to Bach Ke Britney Spears, Madonna - Me Against the Music Justin Timberlake - What Goes Around Comes Around Snoop Dogg - Drop It Like It’s Hot Snoop Dogg - I Wanna Rock The Notorious B.I.G. - Kick in the Door Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
23/08/22·34m 12s

Demi Lovato Searches for "Substance" In Pop-Punk Perfection

Demi Lovato has found herself in many avenues over the past few years – from releasing a tell-all documentary to uncovering extraterrestrials – but 2022 finds them traveling back in time to the sound of the late 90’s and early 2000’s: pop-punk. On this episode of Switched On Pop, we check out her two latest singles, “Skin of My Teeth” and “Substance,” and through focusing on the latter, pull out what, exactly, pop-punk is, and how Demi embodies the genre’s ever-evolving sound in their new track. Songs Discussed: Demi Lovato - Substance Demi Lovato - Skin of My Teeth Demi Lovato - Sorry Not Sorry Demi Lovato - La La Land Demi Lovato - Heart Attack Turnstile - MYSTERY Bring Me The Horizon - Chelsea Smile Blink-182 - Dysentery Gary Misfits - Astro Zombies My Chemical Romance - Astro Zombies Blink-182 - What’s My Age Again WILLOW, Travis Barker - t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue Machine Gun Kelly - bloody valentine Citizen - Stain La Dispute - Such Small Hands Mom Jeans - Edward 40hands Rise Against - Savior NOFX - Whoa on the Whoas Jarrod Alonge, Sunrise Skater Kids - Pop Punk Pizza Party Paramore - For A Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic Fall Out Boy - Of All The Gin Joints In The World Soundgarden - Black Hole Sun The Police - Message in a Bottle Modern Baseball - Tears Over Beers Jimmy Eat World - Sweetness Good Charlotte - The Anthem The Offspring - The Kids Aren’t Alright Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/08/22·25m 8s

Beyoncé's ‘Renaissance’ Era

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: Listen on Spotify: Listen elsewhere: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/08/22·31m 43s

Into It: The Business of Beyoncé

Subscribe to Into It with Sam Sanders Listen on Apple Podcasts: Listen on Spotify: Listen elsewhere: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
05/08/22·39m 8s

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

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
02/08/22·30m 30s

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

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
26/07/22·23m 54s

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

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 We need your help. We are conducting a short audience survey to help plan for our future and hear from you. To participate, head to, and thank you! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
19/07/22·30m 21s

Harry Styles and the Sledgehammer Horns

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. MORE Sledgehammer Horns playlist Every Olivia Wilde reference Vulture found on Harry’s House   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  We need your help. We are conducting a short audience survey to help plan for our future and hear from you. To participate, head to, and thank you! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
12/07/22·24m 56s

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

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.  We need your help. We are conducting a short audience survey to help plan for our future and hear from you. To participate, head to, and thank you! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
05/07/22·53m 2s

Beyoncé's House

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
28/06/22·32m 18s

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

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
21/06/22·24m 29s

Scoring Stranger Things with Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein

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.  Songs Discussed Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Stranger Things, Photos in the Woods, He’s Here, Soldiers, Agents, Starcourt Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill Tangerine Dream - Sorcerer Theme Song John Carpenter - Night Vangelis - Main Titles (Blade Runner) S U R V I V E - A.H.B. S U R V I V E - High Rise  Merzbow - Woodpecker No.1 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/06/22·21m 55s

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

Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” enters the latest season of Stranger Things during a brooding high-school hallway scene right out of the John Hughes playbook, and it has since bounded up the charts, hitting No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and performing better now than when it peaked at No. 30 upon release. Stranger Things, whose latest season has logged more viewer minutes for Netflix than any other English-language release to date, has leaned heavily on ’80s nostalgia since its premiere in 2016: Its iconic theme song is reminiscent of John Carpenter B-movies, and, in an email, used-instrument resale site tells us the show has boosted interest in analog synthesizers. “Running Up That Hill,” then, is a natural fit for the show, and it plays a pivotal, spoiler-ridden plot point in the show, requiring us to hear the hook multiple times throughout the season — a perfect earworm. But its success is owed to more than just repetition. It waffles between major and minor, and the show’s composers, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, told Switched on Pop that both it and the rest of the Stranger Things score have “moments of darkness and lightness in it, constantly trading places.” Plus, they’re composed from the same set of instruments: classic synthesizers and drum machines like the LinnDrum. The song is part and parcel with the soundtrack itself: “There’s these little melodies that we always refer to as ‘And then the Kate Bush part comes in,’” Dixon says. Listen to Switched On Pop to hear how Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” is an exquisite song placement and hear how it blends seamlessly with the Stranger Things soundtrack. MORE Check out Reverb Machine’s sounds of Kate Bush made a tutorial on the synth sounds of Stranger Things The story of the Kate Bush renaissance from The Ringer 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
14/06/22·31m 13s

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

On TikTok, pop stars — Halsey, FKA Twigs, and Florence Welch among them — have been complaining a lot lately about their labels forcing them to make TikToks. As people spent the early part of the pandemic staring at their phones instead of flocking to concerts, the short-form-video social-media platform upended music discovery. In many cases, it gave unknown musicians a pathway to enormous audiences and allowed them to burst into the mainstream on the backs of their TikTok hits. It’s a story as old as the music industry itself: No-name musician gets big overnight and lands a record deal. But until recently, it’s been hard to say just how big and how overnight, so Estelle Caswell from Vox and Matt Daniels from The Pudding spent seven months manually compiling and interrogating the data of who went viral, who got signed, and whose careers dropped off. Their resulting short documentary, We Tracked What Happens After TikTok Songs Go Viral, is a definitive dive into the 2020 class of viral TikTok stars. Although the platform is clearly a dominant force in new-music discovery, they found that streaming music is still overwhelmingly dominated by legacy artists. And since these established acts are now competing for the same eyeballs as their lesser-known colleagues on TikTok, it’s getting harder and harder for the latter to break out. So what happens after you go viral on TikTok? Listen to Switched On Pop to find out. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/06/22·34m 5s

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

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 "Fantasy." 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
31/05/22·27m 24s

Kendrick Lamar and the big samples

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
24/05/22·31m 1s

Modern Classics: PJ Morton made Nas’s Stevie Wonder dream come true

On all of his projects — Grammy-winning albums, playing keys with Maroon 5, fronting a full string section in his NPR Tiny Desk Concert — PJ Morton evinces his mastery at updating classic soul and R&B with modern sounds. His latest full-length release, Watch the Sun, sees him joined by some of his own sources of inspiration, Stevie Wonder and 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
17/05/22·29m 22s

Will Ukraine win Eurovision 2022?

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
10/05/22·28m 59s

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

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
03/05/22·28m 14s

The New Alternative

Last month, Nirvana entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first time in nearly two decades — only their fifth time in history — thanks to a comic-book movie. The band’s 1991 track “Something in the Way” was heavily featured in The Batman, whose director, Matt Reeves, said Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain inspired Robert Pattinson’s brooding performance as the caped crusader. Plus, Cobain’s music influenced the film’s score: Michael Giacchino references the dirge-like chords of “Something in the Way,” borrowed from Chopin’s famous funeral march, throughout The Batman’s soundtrack. While these musical motifs obviously pair well with the inner turmoil of a fledgling Batman, the sound is part of a larger revival of “alternative” music. The DIY aesthetic of ’90s alternative, heard in the music of young stars like Olivia Rodrigo and Willow, is a pendulum swing from electronic-laden sounds of the last decade. And the genre’s anti-corporate perspective, which developed out of the excesses of the ’80s, is a fitting backdrop to contemporary activist attitudes. From the nostalgia of Beabadoobee, to the post-rock sounds of Wet Leg, to the industrial sonics of Halsey’s latest project, new artists are using alternative’s old sounds to shape the sound of contemporary pop. On the latest episode of Switched on Pop, Nate and Charlie scan the alternative radio and streaming charts for standout songs that trace this umbrella genre’s myriad sounds and influences. More Read Justin Curto's article 2021 Killed the Myth that Rock Ever Died 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
26/04/22·31m 18s

Jump-starting the creative process with Allison Ponthier

Allison Ponthier knows the hardest part of making anything is getting started. When she was young, she “always wanted to write songs,” fanatically scribbling rhymes in a diary, but gave it up — the prevailing narratives of natural talent, artistic genius, and spontaneous inspiration put the brakes on her songwriting aspirations. She didn’t pick it up again until she turned 19: “It just took me that long to build the confidence.” Now, after a short stint in jazz school, a scholarly approach to YouTube song tutorials, and consistent writing practice, the 26-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, with lyrics that mine her personal life for unexpected twists and turns. (“It took New York to make me a cowboy,” says the Texas-born, New York–based singer on “Cowboy.”) It helps that she has the backing of songwriting heavyweights such as recent collaborators Lord Huron, Semisonic’s Dan Wilson, and Ethan Gruska (whose productions with Phoebe Bridgers soundtracked the pandemic). To provide a closer look at her process, Ponthier gave us a tour of her songwriting notebook — but not before noting that “no one looks at this, by the way.” The details it contained on the making of her single “Autopilot” is a master class for anyone looking to break through creative barriers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
19/04/22·20m 1s

A Higher Power Ballad

The recorded version of Justin Bieber’s “Peaches” opens with a full-blast chorus alongside driving percussion and ringing guitars. But when he performed the song at this year’s Grammys, the song’s instrumentation was stripped down, with Bieber alone at a grand piano, crooning into the mic. Slowly, a band built up, and in came 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 surprisingly churchy arrangement of Bieber’s hit, but it was the same sort of slow climb heard earlier in the night when Maverick City Music, the first Christian group to perform at the Grammys in 20 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 Maverick City Music’s members, describes this kind of slow build as a “common and underlying structure” that feels “supernatural and spiritual.” But it’s clearly not restricted to the church. “We are called to blur the lines as far as what is Christian and what is gospel — those two have been segregated for too long,” says the group’s leader, 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 putting out music in 2019, Maverick City Music has since released more than 17 combined LPs and EPs in multiple genres, including worship, gospel, R&B, and Latin pop. Consistent across all those records is the transcendent slow build. After exploring the discography of Maverick City Music, one starts to hear the slow build all over pop music. In the case of Bieber, who is both friends with the group and has a religious background, previous hit songs like “Holy” and “Anyone” also use the technique. Even the reworked “Peaches” Bieber performed at the Grammys 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 and roll without gospel, and Christian Contemporary draws its sounds from the ’60s folk movement. Today, songs made for worship share qualities with power ballads, the former elevating the spirit, the latter coaxing out emotions. On the latest episode of Switched on Pop, hosts Charlie Harding and Nate Sloan speak with Maverick City Music and listen 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
12/04/22·27m 28s

How sound becomes hearing

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
05/04/22·41m 46s

Listening 2 Britney: Gimme More

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
29/03/22·27m 35s

Listening 2 Britney: Toxic

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
22/03/22·28m 44s

Listening 2 Britney: I'm a Slave 4 U

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 generated multiple hits. It’s eponymous single reached the #1 spot on Top 40 radio but only ascended to #55 on the year-end chart — the single was only released on vinyl, not CD, to boost album sales. Destiny's Child, Aaliyah and Janet all outperformed “Oops” on the year end chart. CD era marketing tactics aside, these artists were harbingers of what’s to come. 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
15/03/22·29m 5s

Listening 2 Britney: ...Baby One More Time

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
08/03/22·29m 2s

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

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
01/03/22·35m 25s

Leon Bridges and Khruangbin Sing a Song of Texas

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
15/02/22·34m 5s

Shaking Out the Numb with Sylvan Esso

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
08/02/22·30m 36s

We *do* talk about Bruno

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
01/02/22·26m 34s

32 Albums in, Elvis Costello is Just Getting Started

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
25/01/22·34m 12s

Accidental K-pop star Eric Nam risks it all to go his own way

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 label 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
19/01/22·37m 10s

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

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
11/01/22·37m 48s

Why do new Christmas songs fail?

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
21/12/21·26m 34s

Tai Verdes TikTok-ed his way to a breakout hit

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
14/12/21·31m 27s

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raise The Roof

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
07/12/21·31m 37s

The Beatles get back to their roots

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
30/11/21·40m 47s

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

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
23/11/21·41m 46s

Snotty Nose Rez Kids on hip hop and Indigenous protest

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, Yung Trybez and Young 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
16/11/21·26m 42s

The State of the Pop Union

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. MORE Cat Zhang’s review of PinkPantheress’ “Passion” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/11/21·35m 42s

Why ABBA songs just hit different

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
02/11/21·34m 50s

The Healing Power of Pop with Esperanza Spalding

It. Has. Been. A. Year. We’ve felt it; you’ve felt it. Sometimes, it’s comforting to consider how universal 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: Über-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 those lyrics, so she dug around and found an academic who studies that very thing: Alex Kresovich, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media who has authored a bunch of studies on 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. Alex’s research, and research like it, opens up the possibility that pop artists are an underestimated asset when it comes to mental-health messaging. “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 toward 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 an artist who has taken the concept of music as medicine to a whole new level. Over the course of her career, Esperanza Spalding has reimagined the music-making process — transforming it 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 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.” Spalding made clear that this way of “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
26/10/21·35m 27s

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

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
22/10/21·46m 21s

James Bond's Spycraft Sound

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
19/10/21·34m 53s

James Blake & The Return of Harmony

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
12/10/21·39m 50s

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

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
07/10/21·31m 3s

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

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
28/09/21·35m 59s

Deja Vu: Why Olivia Rodrigo keeps giving up songwriting credits

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

CHVRCHES and the sound of 80s horror

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' SONGS DISCUSSED CHVRCHES - Never Ending Circles Dua Lipa - Physical The Weeknd - Blinding Lights CHVRCHES - California CHVRCHES - Lullabies CHVRCHES - Final Girl CHVRCHES - Violent Delights CHVRCHES - He Said She Said CHVRCHES - Asking For A Friend  John Carpenter - Halloween Theme Suspiria - Markos John Carpenter - Christine John Carpenter - Turning The Bones (CHVRCHES Remix) CHVRCHES - Good Girls (John Carpenter remix) CHVRHCES - How Not To Down (with Robert Smith) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/09/21·33m 38s

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

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
07/09/21·27m 1s

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

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 Rubén 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
31/08/21·29m 51s

The Joy of Music Festivals

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
24/08/21·27m 12s

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

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
17/08/21·35m 16s

How Coachella took the Woodstock look

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
10/08/21·25m 58s

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

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
03/08/21·38m 44s

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

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.” More Episodes ft. words or music by Jack Antonoff Chained to the Green Light: Katy Perry + Lorde The Oeuvre of Taylor Swift folklore: taylor swift's quarantine dream "evermore" of a good thing Total Request Live! Taylor, Lana, Kim, and More (with Sam Sanders) Song of Summer 2020: TikTok Jams, Protest Anthems, Breezy Bops & Bummer Bangers Carly Rae Jepsen: Meeting The Muse 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
30/07/21·41m 33s

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

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
27/07/21·33m 18s

The Appealing Uneasiness of Listening to L’Rain (Live at JBL)

L’Rain is the musical persona of singer and multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheek, whose new album, Fatigue, begins with a lyrical quandary: “What have you done to change?” What follows is a journey of self-discovery, the 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 path out of darkness. An unexpected sample of a preacher at a friend’s funeral service — recorded with permission by L’Rain — interrupts the 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 warbles in and out of tune — though the uncomfortable moments are blanketed over on songs such as “Take Two,” where warm synthesizers mix with angelic voices. The 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 traditional style of songwriting, or further fleshed out Fatigue’s catchiest moments, the record might be an easier listen — but not as rewarding. Instead, its undulating moods and nonlinearity 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
23/07/21·26m 12s

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

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
20/07/21·24m 25s

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

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, Melodrama, 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
16/07/21·31m 5s

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

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
13/07/21·35m 1s

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

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
06/07/21·30m 21s

Growing Pains with Lucy Dacus

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  Study on songs that references age Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/07/21·32m 3s

Summer Hits: BTS - Butter (with Jenna Andrews)

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 … well, you get it. 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 interminable global pandemic. With everyone constrained by travel restrictions, the song was written over WhatsApp, a collaboration achieved via text and voice notes sent between South Korea and the U.S. Jenna Andrews, one of the songwriters, says the track went through at least 50 rewrites to reach perfection. The final single is a tightly produced, less than three-minute song in which every moment is a hook. It shifts nostalgically from ’80s Prince to ’90s Michael Jackson through 2000s EDM, each second highlighting BTS’s musical savvy and distinctive vocal performance. In our kick-off episode of Switched on Pop’s Summer Hits series, Andrews spoke 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 Hole 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
29/06/21·36m 10s

Pop’s Worst Kept Secret ft. Emily Warren

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
22/06/21·28m 33s

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

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 1984, 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
15/06/21·31m 6s

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

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
08/06/21·31m 10s

ICYMI Rina Sawayama Reimagines the 00s

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
01/06/21·20m 27s

Vijay Iyer on why jazz has always been political

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
25/05/21·31m 15s

Introducing Galaxy Brains

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
18/05/21·34m 50s

Turns out Willow Smith rocks

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
11/05/21·32m 43s

Julia Michaels’ Songwriting Superpowers

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
04/05/21·42m 39s

How Take A Daytrip took off (full interview)

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
30/04/21·39m 49s

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

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
27/04/21·37m 14s

Pop On A Perilous Planet (w Kyle Devine)

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 the environmental impact of NFTs Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/04/21·35m 16s

5 Rules of Great Songwriting Collabs, According to Teddy Geiger and Dan Wilson (On Air Fest 2021)

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
13/04/21·32m 18s

Silk Sonic's Retro Soul (with Tayla Parx)

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
06/04/21·53m 52s

AJR Conjure Broadway on 'OK Orchestra'

Adam, 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 a carnival-like horns section with skittering 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 showtune influences on OK Orchestra. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/03/21·43m 18s

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

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
23/03/21·34m 2s

What the 63rd Grammys say about the state of pop

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
16/03/21·42m 45s

Kimbra reflects on a song that we used to know

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
09/03/21·49m 1s

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

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. He honed the technique as a teenager, and it has since grabbed the attention of some all-star collaborators: Pharrell Williams, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Anderson .Paak, and Kendrick Lamar. This year, he’s nominated for three Grammys, including Best Dance/Electronica Album for his 2019 sophomore release, Bubba, and Best New Artist. But Kaytranada is hardly new to music; at 28, he has been building a career in the industry for more than a decade. Although the recognition may be overdue, the thrill of it hasn’t worn off. “I’m Kaytranada, all the way from Montreal, Canada — been making beats since I was young. And now here I am, [one of the] Best New Artists for the Grammys. It’s really crazy and exciting,” he says. On this week’s episode of Switched on Pop, co-host Charlie Harding spoke with Kaytranada about how his DIY approach to production led him to music’s biggest stage. SONGS DISCUSSED Kaytranada — Got it Good (feat Craig David), Lite Spots, TOGETHER (feat Aluna George & GoldLink), GLOWED UP (feat Anderson Paak), You're the One (feat SYD), Kulture, 10% (f Kali Uchis), Rush (Kali Uchis), Love Thang (First Choice) Pontos De Luz (Gal Costa) Janet Jackson - If (Kaytranada Remix), Teedra Moses - Be Your Girl (Kaytranada Edition) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/03/21·37m 33s

JP Saxe Didn’t Mean for His Grammy Hit ‘If the World Was Ending’ to Be So Literal

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
23/02/21·37m 43s

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

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
16/02/21·34m 41s

The Scandalous Sounds of Bridgerton (w Kris Bowers)

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
09/02/21·41m 14s

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

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
02/02/21·38m 58s

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

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.  SONGS DISCUSSED Epik High - Rosario, Go, Fly, Map the Soul, Harajuku Days, Born Hater, Lesson Zero, Based On A True Story, Leica, Wish You Were Seo Taiji and Boys - I Know Verbal Jint - Overclass MORE Read Youngdae Kim and T.K. Park’s “A Brief History of Korean Hip-hop”  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/01/21·53m 12s

Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” is a full throttle power ballad

Power ballads used to top the charts regularly, from 80s rock to 90s R&B. But then in the 2000s, the formula of constant escalation gradually fell off the Billboard. Now, seemingly out of nowhere, Olivia Rodrigo’s single “Drivers License” is breaking streaming records as listeners yearn for the emotional catharsis from this contemporary power ballad. With the help of David Metzer, professor of music history at the University of British Columbia, we break down how “Drivers License” sticks to an age-old formula, and how it deviates from a well worn musical path.   SONGS DISCUSSED Olivia Rodrigo - Drivers License Barry Manilow - Mandy Roy Orbison - It’s Over Clyde McPhatter - Without Love There Is Nothing  Etta James - I’d Rather Go Blind  Journey - Open Arms  Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men - One Sweet Day  Seal - Kiss From A Rose Hootie & The Blowfish - Only Wanna Be with You  Led Zeppelin - Stairway To Heaven  MORE Professor David Metzer’s The Ballad in American Popular Music: From Elvis to Beyoncé Aiyana Ishmael for Teen Vogue “Olivia Rodrigo Song "Drivers License" Sparks Fan-Made TikTok POV Covers” Olivia Rodrigo’s Instagram demo Richard S. He Twitter thread  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
19/01/21·40m 20s

D.O.C. (Death of the Chorus) with Emily Warren

Listen to Top 40 pop over the last decade and you’ll notice something weird is happening. The chorus—the emotional apotheosis of a pop song, its dizzying high, its cathartic sing-along center—is disappearing. In its place, artists from Bad Bunny to Taylor Swift are toying with new, chorus-lite song forms that introduce a new musical grammar to the sound of contemporary pop. We may not think much about pop structure when listening to our favorite songs, but this is a big deal—the last time pop experienced such a seismic shift was when the chorus first came into fashion, back in the 1960s. What does this mean for modern musicians and listeners? Emily Warren, songwriter for new-guard stars like Dua Lipa and Khalid, joins to break down why the sea change in pop form represents a new horizon of creative possibility. Songs Discussed Bad Bunny - Si Veo a Tu Mamá Future & Drake - Life Is Good Billie Holiday - Blue Moon Beyonce - Formation Travis Scott - Sicko Mode Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody Aretha Franklin - (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman Drake - Laugh Now Cry Later (ft. Lil Durk) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
12/01/21·41m 9s

ICYMI: The End Of Pop Music As We Know It: Fall Out Boy & Charli XCX

Is it true that all pop music sounds the same today? For the past year the “pop-drop” has dominated the airwaves. This new form of EDM infused pop came out of DJ culture and has infused its sound with every mainstream act like Lady Gaga and Coldplay. Tiring of this sound, some artists are finding creative ways to parody this pop trope. The rock outfit Fall Out Boy’s “Young And Menace” demonstrates equal parts mastery and mockery of the pop-drop. And PC Music, a rising art-music label out of London, skewers the whole of pop cliché on their mixtape collaboration with Charli XCX. After this episode, we promise you’ll be ready to move on to new sounds. Luckily, listeners have collaborated to create a new favorites playlist to help you cleanse your palette. This episode was originally published May 2017. SONGS DISCUSSED The Chainsmokers – Closer Kygo & Selena Gomez – It Ain’t Me Lady Gaga – The Cure Fall Out Boy – Sugar We’re Going Down Fall Out Boy – Young And Menace Jay Z – D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune) Ariana Grande – Into You Katy Perry feat. Skip Marley – Chained To The Rhythm Drake – Passionfruit Postmodern Jukebox – Sugar We’re Going Down Swinging Britney Spears – Oops! I Did It Again Skrillex – Bangarang DJ Snake – Middle Beyoncé – Love On Top Icona Pop – I Love It (feat. Charlie XCX) Iggy Azalea – Fancy ft. Charli XCX Selena Gomez – Same Old Love Charli XCX – 3AM (Pull Up) (feat. MØ) Hannah Diamond – Every Night Bronze – Thy Slaughter Danny L Harle – Super Natural (ft. Carly Rae Jepsen) SOPHIE – JUST LIKE WE NEVER SAID GOODBYE A.G. Cook – Superstar Ariana Grande – Side To Side Coon Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra – I’m Gonna Charleston Back To Charleston Spotify Playlist Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
05/01/21·48m 27s

ICYMI: Do You Believe in Life After Autotune?

Auto-Tune may be the most divisive effect in music. Artists have protested it publicly at the Grammys, and critics have derided the effects for its inauthentic reproduction of the voice. And yet, nearly a decade since Jay-Z prophesied the death of Auto-Tune, the sound is alive and thriving in contemporary pop and hip-hop. Journalist Simon Reynolds has written a definitive history of Auto-Tune for Pitchfork that fundamentally changed how we hear this sound. This deep dive criss crosses geology, technology, and the evolution of pop as we know it. Songs Discussed: Cher - Believe Katy Perry - Firework Rihanna - Diamonds Future - F*ck Up Some Commas Emma Robinson - Stay (Cover)  Imogen Heap - Hide And Seek  Zapp & Roger - Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing)  T. Pain - Chopped N Screwed ft. Ludacris  Lil Wayne - “How To Love” Kanye - “Heartless” The Black Eyed Peas “Boom Boom Pow” Jay-Z - Death Of Auto-Tune Elvis - Mystery Train The Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows Whispering Jack Smith - Baby Face Kesha - Tik Tok Bon Iver - Woods Future & Juice WRLD - Jet Lag ft. Young Scooter  Shek Wes - Mo Bamba The Carters - Apeshit Further Reading: Simon Reynolds - “How Auto-Tune Revolutionized the Sound of Popular Music" Simon Reynolds -Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29/12/20·49m 5s

Wham! Op. 84 “Last Christmas” with Chilly Gonzales

Wham’s 1984 contribution to the holiday cannon, “Last Christmas,” has surprising staying power. When Grammy-winning pianist Chilly Gonzales set out to record a holiday album, “A Very Chilly Christmas,” most of the selections were over a half century old. That’s because most of our favorite seasonal songs come from the 1960s and earlier. But in addition to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas,” Wham’s “Last Christmas” reliably returns each winter. Despite the cheesy 80s synths and drum machines, the song’s harmonies are remarkable resilient, a testament to George Michael’s auteur songwriting method. Celebrated artist known for his solo piano works, collaborations with Feist and Daft Punk, and his musical masterclasses series, Chilly Gonzales—musical genius—AKA “Gonzo,” sits down at the piano to share in the beauty of this nu-classical Christmas love song, as well as a few selections from his new album “A Very Chilly Christmas.” MORE Get tickets for A Very Chilly Christmas Special airing Dec 23rd at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/12/20·53m 20s

Taylor Swift has "evermore" of a good thing

Just five months after releasing her Grammy-nominated album “folklore,” Taylor Swift surprised fans with a continuation of sorts — her ninth studio album “evermore.” Working with many of her “folklore” collaborators, Swift says that the team “couldn’t stop writing songs.” Like its sister album, “evermore” shies away from over-the-top pop production, and leans into Swift’s craft. Stripped of the highly produced synth layers from her “Lover” and “Reputation” era, Swift’s lyrics and vocal performance shine in their unvarnished restraint. On this hour-long album, Swift shows her ingenuity with the building blocks of songwriting, giving us more of her signature Swiftian strengths: Lyrics, melody and story.  More Read "Figure It Out: The Linguistic Turn in Country Music" by Jimmie N. Rogers and Miller Williams in Country Music Annual 2000 Listen to Jenny Owen Youngs album Night Shift for more rubber bridge guitar and great songs Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/12/20·45m 1s

Women's Rap Renaissance

Producer Bridget Armstrong shares her top tracks from women who are running hip-hop in 2020: Megan Thee Stallion, Tierra Whack, Rico Nasty, Flo Milli, and CHIKA More Listen to the Drake episode on In My Feelings: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
08/12/20·42m 18s

Red Hot + Blue with Meshell Ndegeocello

In 1990 John Carlin and Leigh Blake pioneered a new kind of charity album. Together they co-founded Red Hot, a non-profit music label that uses music to raise money and awareness to for the fight against AIDS. This year is the 30th anniversary of their record: Red Hot + Blue, a platinum tribute album to Cole Porter, featuring artists like U2, Jody Watley, David Byrne, k.d. lang and Annie Lennox. Having released 20 projects and raised over $15M for AIDS charities, Carlin reflects back on Red Hot's idiosyncratic approach to reaching music audiences with a public health mission. And ten time Grammy nominee Red Hot collaborator Meshell Ndegeocello discusses how her contributions informed her own prolific music activism. More Listen to Red Hot's records at Listen to Meshell's Chapter & Verse by calling 1-833-4-BALDWIN or visiting Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/12/20·43m 26s

The Cyndi Lauper Conspiracy (with Sam Sanders)

Every song Cyndi Lauper writes is pop perfection according to Sam Sanders, host of NPR’s “It’s Been A Minute.” Many fall for “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” but Sanders's favorite song is the slow burner “All Through The Night,” save for one moment: the synthesizer solo. For Sanders, this solo never fit in. Charlie investigates the source of his musical malady and uncovers how the 80s got its groove.  Songs Discussed Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun Cyndi Lauper - Time After Time Cyndi Lauper - She Bop Cyndi Lauper - All Through the Night Janet Jackson - When I Think Of You Janet Jackson - The Pleasure Principle Janet Jackson - Nasty Kenny Loggins - Danger Zone Whitney Houston - Greatest Love Of All Queen - Who Wants To Live Forever Tina Turner - What's Love Got To Do With It Cyndi Lauper - Change Of Heart Phil Collins - In The Air Tonight Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes Tom Petty - You Got Lucky Cars - Lets Go Talking Heads - Burning Down The House Parliament Funkadelic - Atomic Dog The Weeknd - Blinding Lights Dua Lipa - Physical Little Mix - Break Up Song Miley Cyrus - Heart of Glass (Blondie Cover) More Read Dr. Megan L. Lavengood's research on the DX7: Listen to Dave Smith's (recently re-released) Sequential Prophet 5 synthesizer: Learn about William Wittman's production credits on Discogs: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/11/20·36m 30s

ANTHEMS: Missy Elliott — Work It

Cultural critic Ivie Ani breaks down how Missy Elliott broke into the pantheon of anthems, and how she changed the scope of who could belong. Songs Discussed Missy Elliott - Work It Blondie - Heart of Glass RUN-DMC - Peter Piper Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three - Request Line Snoop Dogg - Y'All Gone Miss Me Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back Trace Adkins - Honky Tonk Badonkadonk Missy Elliott - The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) Lil Kim - Not Tonight (Remix) Missy Elliott - Lose Control (feat. Ciara & Fat Man Scoop) Missy Elliott - Sock It 2 Me Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/11/20·37m 54s

ANTHEMS: Smash Mouth — All Star

When Smash Mouth wrote "All Star,” they knew that it was going to change their lives. But they never expected it would become an anthem played in sports arenas, soundtracked by Hollywood, and embedded into seemingly every internet meme. Darryn King joins the show to break down "The Never-ending Life of Smash Mouth's 'All Star.'" Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/11/20·34m 28s

ANTHEMS: Jock Jams — Get Ready For This

In 1995, ESPN launched Jock Jams Volume 1, a compilation record that would define the sound of sports for the next quarter century. We listen to the album's biggest songs to define what makes a "Jock Jam," and tell the story of how this record came to define the sound of the stadium. MORE Read Emily VanDerWerff's article: “The Jock Jam” megamix inadvertently plays out ESPN’s inner tensions Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/11/20·35m 0s

ANTHEMS: Queen — We Are The Champions

Freddie Mercury and team made one of the most unusual anthems of all time. “We Are The Champions” has a somber beginning, an uncertain ending and a sprinkling of operatic allusions. Yet more than 40 years after this slow burners debut, it continues to be a staple at sporting events. In the first episode in a four part series, ANTHEMS, Nate and Charlie break down the song’s fundamental elements that place this song in the anthemic pantheon.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
27/10/20·36m 17s

Cory Henry has Something to Say

Cory Henry is a remarkably gifted multi-instrumentalist. Growing up in the church, he started playing the Hammond B3 organ at age 2 and played his first gig at Apollo theater in NYC at age 6. As a professional musician he’s played along side Bruce Springsteen, Boyz II Men, The Roots, Kirk Franklin and many others including the acclaimed group Snarky Puppy which earned 3 Grammys during his tenure playing keys. Now he leads his band Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles who are releasing an album on Oct 30th called Something To Say, which features all of Henry’s gifts, but especially his voice in an album that makes you want to get up and dance as much as it makes you want to take action.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/10/20·31m 32s

The Pop Music Forecast (with Lauren Michele Jackson)

Shawn Mendes, BTS, Alicia Keys, 24kGoldn, Dua Lipa, Justin Bieber & Chance The Rapper are all in the Hot 100 with songs that attempt to cope with the state of the world. What do they tell us about the sound of popular music and our collective psyche? Charlie is joined by writer, critic and friend of the podcast, Lauren Michele Jackson to offer a meteorological reading of music in late 2020. MORE Read Aja Romano's article "With 'Dynamite,' BTS beat the US music industry at its own cheap game" on SONGS DISCUSSED Shawn Mendes - Wonder Alicia Keys - Underdog Hamilton - My Shot Dua Lipa - Break My Heart INXS - Need You Tonight BTS - Dynamite Justin Bieber - Holy ft. Chance The Rapper 24kgolden - Mood ft. iann dior Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/10/20·41m 43s

Brandy Clark's Life Is A Record

There is a type of country song that loves flawed characters lost on a winding journey ... likely down a dit road. One of the best songwriters in this style is acclaimed artist Brandy Clark. Her credits include a whose-who of country music—Kacey Musgraves, Reba McEntire, Darius Rucker, Lean Rimes—and her albums have received overwhelming critical acclaim. And her debut record, 12 Stories, earned her a 2015 Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. We spoke with Brandy about her new album Your Life Is A Record, which asks what if your life’s journey fit on one LP. The songs are honest, and buck the all too familiar pop-country clichés. Clark writes songs about anti-heroes who make imperfect choices (“Who You Thought I Was,” “The Past Is The Past.”) All together her songs portray one whole life.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/10/20·31m 48s

Keith Urban on The Speed of Now Part 1

Keith Urban is a legend of country. He’s been releasing hit records for two decades now. Each album he describes as a portrait of his life in that moment. On his latest work, The Speed Of Now Part 1, has Urban disregarding country convention (as he’s known to do), and collaborating with a diverse roster of musicians who contribute an eclectic array of sounds funk guitar, breakbeat drums and even EDM style programming. The result is less straight ahead country and more the unique sound of Keith Urban. In this conversation, we discuss his music, how he stays creative, and why he believes music can still be a uniting force. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/10/20·43m 27s

Mickey Guyton sings truth to Country Music

Mickey Guyton spent a decade of fits and starts trying to make a career in country music. But now in recent months she’s having a country music moment releasing vulnerable songs that use her experiences of rejection, exclusion and racism as inspiration. Charlie speaks with Guyton about her breakout songs “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” and “Black Like Me,” as well as what it took for her to make it onto one of country musics most beloved stages, the American Country Music Awards. Songs Discussed Mickey Guyton - What Are You Gonna Tell Her Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers - Islands In the Stream Dolly Parton - Coat of Many Colors Mickey Guyton - Safe (Acoustic) Mickey Guyton - Heartbreak Song Mickey Guyton - Why Baby Why Mickey Guyton - Better Than You Left Me Mickey Guyton - Black Like Me Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29/09/20·55m 13s

Disclosure: Where Energy Flows

Howard and Guy Lawrence, the brothers behind Disclosure, found global acclaim in 2012 with their song “Latch” ft. Sam Smith which blended house and dubstep in a doo-wop time signature. Since, they have collaborated with many of pop’s most sought after vocalists (The Weeknd, Lore and Khalid to name a few) in an ever evolving vision of dance music. On their latest album release, “Energy,” Disclosure channels sounds and samples from the global south. Listen to find out how they make the energy flow.  Survey We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here:  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
22/09/20·40m 46s

THE 5TH — MOVEMENT IV, What Beethoven Would Have Wanted

When we listen closely to the Fifth, we hear a testament to self-expression and determination. Which means that we get to decide how to honor this symphony today, whether that means taking a break from Beethoven to commission new works from underrepresented composers, bringing new audiences into the fold by staging concerts in communities outside of the concert hall, or re-writing Beethoven’s works to make them reflect our present moment.  Featuring: Anthony McGill, Clarinet Andrea Moore, Musicologist Deborah Borda, CEO and President David Lang, Composer Jaap van Sweden, Conductor Leelanee Sterett, Horn Sherry Sylar, Oboe Music Featured: Carlos Simon, Loop Tania Léon, Stride David Lang, Prisoner of the State Recoding of Beethoven Symphony 5 by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Jaap van Sweden used by permission from Decca Gold. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/09/20·31m 23s

THE 5TH — MOVEMENT III, Putting the Classism in Classical

Before Beethoven’s time, classical music culture looked and sounded quite different. When Mozart premiered his Symphony 31 in the late 1700s, it was standard for audiences to clap, cheer, and yell “da capo!” (Italian for “from the beginning!”) in the middle of a performance. After Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony debuted in the early 1800s, these norms changed — both because the rising industrial merchant class took ownership of concert halls and because of shifts in the music itself. As we explored in episodes I and II of the Switched On Pop podcast series The 5th, the musical complexity of Beethoven’s symphony required a different kind of listening. The Fifth’s four-note opening theme occurs and recurs in variations throughout the symphony, slowly shifting from minor to major keys and mirroring Beethoven’s experience with deafness. The Fifth’s creative rule-breaking — subverting the classical sonata form in the first movement, for example — requires close listening to fully grasp. Over time, these norms crystallized into a set of etiquette rules (e.g., “don’t clap mid-piece”) to enhance the new listening experience. In the third episode of The 5th, we explore how Beethoven’s symphony was used to generate the strict culture of classical music — and the politics that undergird those norms of behavior. Music Discussed Recording of The New York Philharmonic performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 conducted by Jaap van Zweden used by permission from Decca Gold. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/09/20·32m 22s

THE 5TH — MOVEMENT II, From Struggle to Victory

In the first movement of his famous symphony, Beethoven sets up a battle between hope and despair. The dark side of that spectrum is represented by the anguished opening notes of the first movement: DUN DUN DUNNN. Over the course of the next three movements, Beethoven keeps trying to overcome his dark fate with bright major melodies, and keeps getting defeated. With each high and low, we begin to understand that this battle isn't just about major and minor keys, it's about the will to live in the face of adversity. How do you perform such an emotional rollercoaster? We talk to the members of the New York Philharmonic about what it's like to sound a symphony whose stakes are life and death. Jaap van Zweden, Conductor Leelanee Sterrett, Horn Kyle Zerna, Percussion Frank Huang, Violin Anthony McGill, Clarinet Sherry Sylar, Oboe Recording of The New York Philharmonic performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 conducted by Jaap van Zweden used by permission from Decca Gold. Hear new episodes of our four-part miniseries The 5th every Tuesday and Friday starting September 8th. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/09/20·28m 4s

THE 5TH — MOVEMENT I, A Battle Brewing

You know Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. You’ve heard it in films, advertisements, parodied in Saturday morning cartoons and disco-ized in Saturday Night Fever. The Fifth Symphony is a given, so much so that it blends into the background. You know this piece, but how well? Of all the symphonies of the bewigged classical "greats," why is this one still stuck in our heads over two centuries later? To answer these questions, we’re giving Beethoven’s famous symphony the same treatment we give to pop songs. And we’re doing so with the help of an orchestra that’s been performing this piece since 1842, the New York Philharmonic. In Movement I, we hear how the famous opening notes of the symphony aren't just melody: they’re the main character in a drama that will unfold over four movements. Featuring: Frank Huang, Violin Anthony McGill, Clarinet Sherry Sylar, Oboe Recording of The New York Philharmonic performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 conducted by Jaap van Zweden used by permission from Decca Gold. New episodes of our four-part miniseries The 5th drop every Tuesday and Friday starting September 8th. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
08/09/20·27m 48s

The Resistance is Dancing in the Streets (ICYMI)

Our Switched on Summer Throwback Series continues with “Dancing in the Street,” the 1964 Motown hit by Martha and the Vandellas that was co-written by none other than Marvin Gaye. Over 50 years and countless covers later, we explore how this song still manages to get people off their feet and onto the streets—not just to dance, but also to raise their voices in joy, catharsis, and protest. SPONSOR We use Reason Studios to make music on Switched On Pop. You can use Reason too free for 30 days: SONGS DISCUSSED Martha and the Vandellas – Dancing in the Street Marvin Gaye – Stubborn Kind of Fellow The Mamas and the Papas – Dancing in the Street The Grateful Dead – Dancing in the Street Van Halen – Dancing in the Street Mick Jagger and David Bowie – Dancing in the Street Kendrick Lamar – Alright Pharrell Williams – Happy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/09/20·32m 13s

Benee and the Art of the Sad Banger

How does it feel to become a global pop star under lockdown? Benee’s “Supalonely” had been out for over 5 months when in March of 2020, it quickly became the second most popular song on TikTok. The song’s hook “I’ve been lonely… Supalonely” clearly reflected a global collective malaise about the pandemic—and people wanted to dance to it. She wrote this “sad banger” to help get over a breakup. And now the song changed her life. Not along before she’d dropped out of college to make music while working at a pizza place. Her first EP had found an audience in her home country, New Zealand. Now, with her TikTok success Benee has ascended the top 100 in 30 countries. All of this happened from the solitude of her childhood bedroom, where like so many people, she’s taking zoom calls all day. She tells Switched On Pop about using levity to overcome personal difficulty and what’s like to achieve global recognition from home. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/08/20·28m 56s

90s Music Canon

Matt Daniels, editor of the publication The Pudding, wanted to find out what songs from his youth would last into the future. So he designed a study that would test if Gen-Z had a grip on 90s culture. Hundreds of thousands of participants provided over 3 million data points. Daniels parsed through the data for insights. Sadly, the majority of his most beloved songs have not survived even one generation. Though most had been forgotten, he found that just a few songs had staying power across generations — what he defined as the emerging 90s music canon. Find out what songs make it and which have fallen to the wayside.  MORE The Pudding’s study on Defining the 90s Canon Take The Pudding’s quiz yourself SONGS DISCUSSED Spice Girls - Wannabe  Mariah Carey - Fantasy! Lou Bega - Mambo #5 Los Del Rio - Macarena Boys II Men - Motown Philly Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You Savage Garden - I Want You The Barenaked Ladies - One Week Jewel - You Were Meant For Me Jennifer Lopez - If You Had My Love Celine Dion - My Heart Will Go On Britney Spears - Baby One More Time Smash Mouth - All Star Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/08/20·38m 4s

Bruno Major restyles the Great American Songbook

Bruno Major blends old song structures from The Great American Songbook with contemporary production on his new album “To Let A Good Thing Die.” The result is a nostalgic, yet contemporary collection of love songs for the Netflix and chill generation. We speak with Bruno Major about how he draws inspiration from the past to craft something new. He breaks down his songs "Nothing," "To Let A Good Thing Die," and "The Most Beautiful Thing," which he wrote with Finneas. And we unpack how Bruno Major found success only after being dropped from his record label. SONGS DISCUSSED Bruno Major - Nothing Autumn Leaves - Nat King Cole Fly Me to The Moon - Frank Sinatra Stella By Starlight - Tony Bennett There Will Never Be Another You - Nat King Cole Like Someone in Love - Chet Baker Deep in a Dream - Frank Sinatra All The things you are - Ella Fitzgerald Paul Simon - Still Crazy After All These Years Wes Montgomery - In Your Own Sweet Way Bruno Major - Wouldn't Mean A Thing Bruno Major - Bad Religion (Live) Bruno Major - I'll Sleep When I'm Older J Cole - KOD J Dilla - La La La Bruno Major - The Most Beautiful Thing Bruno Major - To Let A Good Thing Die Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/08/20·47m 0s

Black Is King (ICYMI Beyoncé's Gift To Africa ft. Ivie Ani)

Beyoncé' has released "Black Is King," a visual album based off of music that she released last year. We're rerunning that piece so that you can place the visual component of "Black Is King" in context to the music. For the live action remake of the Lion King, Beyoncé, (who voices Nala in the film), recorded and curated a companion soundtrack called The Gift. She worked with leading Afropop stars to expose the music of the continent to a global audience. In her piece, “Diversity Is in the Details: What Beyoncé’s ‘The Lion King: The Gift’ Gets Right and Wrong,” Okayplayer music editor Ivie Ani argues that the album highlights music while unintentionally treating the continent as a monolith. Ani joins Switched On Pop to break down this album and what it means for Afropop. SONGS DISCUSSED Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, Oumou Sangaré – MOOD 4 EVA Oumou Sangaré – Diaraby Nen Burna Boy – JA ARA Fela Kuti – Water No Get Enemy Fena, MDQ, Mayonde, Kagwe, Blinky Bill – PARTY NATION BONUS Listen to Blinky and Ivie’s East African playlist recommendations Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/08/20·39m 0s

folklore: taylor swift's quarantine dream

Taylor Swift has released folklore, her unexpected eighth studio album. It is an understated work that firmly puts celebrity gossip behind her (there are no who's-dating-who easter eggs to be found). Instead we're gifted Swift's greatest strength: songwriting. The lyrics blur "fantasy and reality." There are imagined teenage love trysts, recreated dynasties and intimate reflections on modern love. We break down the sounds and lyrics that make up Swift's strongest album yet. SONGS DISCUSSED Taylor Swift - the 1, illicit affairs, my tears ricochet, august, epiphany, cruel summer, this is my trying, hoax, peace, you belong with me, mirrorball, epiphany, our song, cardigan, the last great american dynasty, betty The National - Light Years Bon Iver - 666 BONUS The correct term for the piano line is a "turn" Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/07/20·40m 48s

The Women Reclaiming Nu-Metal ft. Rina Sawayama

Nu-Metal, the mid 90s creation that blended metal, rap and pop, is one of the most critically derided pop genres. So it is strange that this genre is having a comeback. But whereas its first incarnation was dominated by men, now women are leading the way. Artists like Poppy, Grimes and Rina Sawayama have recast the heavy guitars, sung-rap lyrics and gaudy aesthetic to fight back the patriarchy. CORRECTION: Charlie does not play pinch harmonics, but rather natural harmonics SONGS DISCUSSED Korn - Freak On A Leash Rina Sawayama - STFU! Limp Bizkit - Break Stuff Poppy - I Disagree Nine Inch Nails - Head Like A Hole Grimes, Hana - We Appreciate Power Rina Sawayama - XS Britney Spears - Gimme More Britney Spears - Toxic MORE Check out Finn McKenty's YouTube channel The Punk Rock MBA starting with his video on what killed Nu-Metal Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/07/20·42m 3s

Rosie: Investigating a Crime at the Heart of the Music Industry

Listen closely to the start of the 2015 hit "Hey Mama" by David Guetta, Nicki Minaj, Afrojack, and Bebe Rexha and you'll hear voices intoning a chant: "Be my woman, girl, I'll be your man." It's sample from a 1948 recording called "Rosie," and it's the propulsive hook of "Hey Mama," driving the song to over a billion views on YouTube. The voices in the sample belong to CB Cook and ten other unidentified prisoners at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, aka Parchman Farm. These men never got credit for their work, even though it's been reused by everyone from Guetta to the Animals to Nina Simone. We investigate the story of "Rosie" to understand an inequity that lies at the heart of the music business and our national consciousness. Songs Discussed David Guetta ft Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha, and Afrojack - Hey Mama CB Cook and Axe Gang - Rosie The Animals - Inside Looking Out Grand Funk Railroad - Inside Looking OUt KRS-One - Sound of Da Police Jay Z - Takeover Nina Simone - Be My Husband Check out Kembrew McLeod's and Peter DiCola's book Creative License to learn more about the law and culture of digital sampling. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/07/20·28m 4s

Song of Summer 2020: TikTok Jams, Protest Anthems, Breezy Bops & Bummer Bangers

The 2020 song of summer competition is underway. We asked you for your favorite songs and put them in a head-to-head tournament. Find out which is the song for this very unusual summer.  ROUND 1 - TikTok Jams SAINt JHN - "Roses" Imanbek Remix  Megan Thee Stallion - Savage Remix (Feat. Beyoncé) The Weeknd - Blinding Lights ROUND 2 - Protest Anthems Beyoncé - Black Parade Anderson .Paak - Lockdown  YG - FTP ROUND 3 - Breezy Bops Dua Lipa - Physical Chloe x Halle - Do It Harry Styles - Watermelon Sugar ROUND 4 - Bummer Bangers Taylor Swift - Cruel Summer Lana Del Rey - Summertime Sadness HAIM - Up From A Dream Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/07/20·41m 48s

The Many Colors of Lady Gaga’s ‘Chromatica’

Lady Gaga’s 6th album is a conceptual release about a future that is neither utopian nor dystopian. Despite its sci-fi visuals, the album looks more to the past and present than the future. Chromatica gives us a world that sounds like 90s house music made for this summer’s cancelled Pride parties. It is lyrically somber, but musically upbeat, a productive tension that inspires hope. Gaga shared that she made this album to help her and her ‘little monsters’ dance through the pain. So we called on our listeners to dig up the most meaningful moments on the album and help us tour the world of Chromatica. SONGS DISCUSSED Lady Gaga - Chromatica I, 1000 Doves, Alice, Bad Romance, Stupid Love, Fun Tonight, Paparazzi, The Fame, Rain On Me, Since From Above, Babylon Gwen McCray - All This Love Cassius - Feeling For You Avicci & Sebastien Drums - My Feelings For You MORE "Welcome To Chromatica" playlist: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/06/20·35m 32s

I Am America (w Shea Diamond and Justin Tranter)

Shea Diamond has experienced so many facets of America as a black trans woman, and with songwriter Justin Tranter, she's woven those experiences into "I Am America," a blistering, funky anthem about community and belonging. Her track is also the theme song for the new HBO show "We're Here," which follows a team of a drag queens bringing drag shows to small towns across the country, challenging our assumptions about who makes up the "real America." We sit down with Diamond and Tranter to discuss singing as preaching, what it means to release this track during Pride month, why the flat seventh hits so good, and how the horns on the song feature producer Eren Cannata's dad Richie on sax, making this bop a true family affair. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/06/20·22m 22s

Baz Luhrmann’s “Sunscreen Song” — The 90s’ Most Unlikely Hit (with Avery Trufelman)

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.  SONGS DISCUSSED Baz Luhrmann - Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) Think - Once You Understand MORE The BBC documentary on “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" Another speech set to music, Byron MacGregor/Gordon Sinclair’s “Americans,” peaked at #4 in 1974 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
23/06/20·52m 54s

Jacob Collier on staying creative and his 646 track song “All I Need”

Quarantined in his family’s music room, musician Jacob Collier has been remarkably productive. Known for his polymathic musical talents, Collier has used this time to reflect on, and release new music. His latest song “All I Need,” was created with new technology that let him record remotely with his collaborators Mahalia and Ty Dolla $ign. The song is uplifting. It modulates into arcane keys that evoke the euphoria of newfound love. Collier’s also been convening live streams with artists like Tori Kelly and Chris Martin where Collier seemingly defies the laws of physics to collaborate, in time, over long-distance video chat. Collier is a hopeful voice, demonstrating how music can boost our spirits in dark times. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
19/06/20·35m 48s

What it means to make music in 2020

The pandemic has upended the art and business of making music. Producing, performing and releasing — every aspect is new and uncharted. The need for social distancing means that it’s unsafe to collaborate in small studios or perform for large crowds — not to mention finding the right thing to sing about in such a charged moment. We’re telling three stories about how artists are working within these constraints: Ricky Reed and John-Robert have found a way to generate a creative spark remotely, Jacob Collier has defied the laws of physics to master live performance over the internet, and Dua Saleh has released a powerful new track that helps support the protests in Minneapolis. Everything is radically different than it was a few months ago, but these stories shine a light on why making music matters more than ever in 2020.  SONGS DISCUSSED Lizzo - Juice John-Robert, Ricky Reed, Zach Sekof - Favorite Boy Bill Withers - Lean On Me performed by Ty Dolla Sign & Jacob Collier Jacob Collier - All I Need D’Angelo - Feel Like Making Love Stevie Wonder - You And I performed by Tori Kelly and Jacob Collier Dua Saleh - Body Cast Dua Saleh - Sugar Mama Dua Saleh - Moth Dua Saleh - Smut Sister Rosetta Tharp - This Little Light Of Mine MORE Watch Nice Live on YouTube: Dua Saleh's "Body Cast" BandCamp campaign: Listen to Dua Saleh's new album Rosetta: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/06/20·35m 33s

Big Floyd And The Influence Of Houston Chopped N Screwed Music

In a Rolling Stone article titled “He Shook The World: George Floyd’s Legendary Houston Legacy”, writer Charles Holmes reveals the musical past of the man who has become an international symbol for justice since his murder. Known as “Big Floyd” in his Houston community, he was part of the city’s Screwed Up Click, a hip-hop collective centered around the now-legendary producer DJ Screw. This underground scene created a style of slowed-down “chopped and screwed” hip-hop that seeped into mainstream hip-hop, and has even been appropriated by bubblegum Top 40. In this episode we unpack how this chopped and screwed sound took over pop and shine a light on George Floyd’s involvement with the Screwed Up Click. MORE Read Charles Holmes’ Rolling Stone article: '”He Shook the World': George Floyd's Legendary Houston Legacy” SONGS DISCUSSED DJ Screw - Sittin On Top Of The World ft. Big Floyd Mike Jones - Still Tippin’ Mikes Jones - Back Then Chamillionaire - Ridin Chamillionaire - Roll Call Paul Wall - Sittin Sidewayz Nelly - Grillz ft Paul Wall Kanye West, Paul Wall - Drive Slow Drake - November 18th A$AP Rocky - Purple Swag The Weeknd - Initiation Beyoncé - Bow Down THE SCOTTS - THE SCOTTS Travis Scott - Sicko Mode Travis Scott - R.I.P. Screw DJ Screw - In The Air Tonight E.S.G. DJ Screw - Swangin and Bangin DJ Screw - Screwed Up Click - Red pt 2 DJ Screw - 3 In The Morning DJ Screw - June 27th Freestyle DJ Screw and Lil’ Keke - Pimpin Tha Pen Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/06/20·32m 7s

Carly Rae Jepsen: Meeting The Muse

They say you should never meet your idols, that you’ll only be disappointed. We had this possibility in mind going into our first interview with Carly Rae Jepsen, the pop star who inspired us to start our podcast Switched on Pop when Nate taught “Call Me Maybe” as a case study in music theory. Six years later and hundreds of pleading emails later, the time had come to meet the muse and unpack her latest offering, Dedicated Side B. In the course of composing her last two albums, E•MO•TION and Dedicated, Jepsen wrote over 200 songs. Many of her favorite works didn’t make it on either final album, so she’s started a tradition of releasing “Side B” records on the one-year anniversary of her last release. Her newest collection of unreleased music fluidly crosses decades of musical history and spans a vast emotional range. We spoke with Jepsen over Zoom about how she curated her latest B-Side release from a massive body of work. Would this beatific figure, once described by poet Hanif Abdurraqib and the “most honest pop musician working,” live up to her reputation? Listen to find out. SONGS DISCUSSED Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe, Julien, Party For One, Now That I’ve Found You, No Drug Like Me, Want You In My Room, Cut To The Feeling, Run Away With Me, Window, This Love Isn’t Crazy, Solo Squeeze - Tempted By The Fruit Irving Berlin - God Bless America performed by Kate Smith Vulfpeck - Back Pocket Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/05/20·42m 14s

Why lo-fi is the perfect background music

Lo-Fi hip-hop has emerged as a hugely popular genre and internet subculture. Its millions of loyal fans rely on curated lo-fi playlists and live-streams to write to, study to and even fall asleep to. Heck, we even wrote a good chunk of our book to Spotify’s lo-fi beats playlists. There’s just something about those ambient, spacey, plodding beats that place us in a state of determined zen. But what of its musical roots? Who are its stars? And why, despite its mass following on YouTube, Spotify and elsewhere, is it nearly impossible to spot on the Billboard? We trace lo-fi from its godfathers to its moments in the sun, to the complex creative ecosystem playing out on streaming platforms today. MORE You can find music from this episode on this week’s Spotify playlist Sign up for Cherie Hu’s newsletter Water & Music that sent us down the lo-fi hip hop rabbit hole Check out Seneca B on Spotify: Check out weird inside on Spotify Check out eevee on Spotify SONGS DISCUSSED Brenky - Bye Brenky - People J Dilla ft. Common, D’Angelo - So Far To Go Isley Brothers - Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time For Love), Pts. 1&2 Charlatan - Wasted Jazz Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
19/05/20·37m 42s

Eurovision Lives! (with Netta)

Like many events, the international song competition Eurovision 2020 has been canceled. Sadly, there will be no champion crowned this year... or will there?! Charlie and Nate comb through the emotional, the catchy, and the downright bizarre entries, then—with some help from our audience and 2018 Eurovision winner Netta—pick the best song in all the land. Come for the Lithuanian moose dance, stay for the unshakeable power of pop glory in a world gone mad. Songs discussed Netta - Toy Netta - Ricki Lake Senhit - FREAKY! Tornike Kipiani - Take Me as I am Go-A - Solovey Efendi - Cleopatra Gjon’s Tears - Repondez-moi The Roop - On Fire Dadi Freyr - Think About Things Roxen - Alcohol You Little Big - Uno Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
12/05/20·42m 20s

How To Soundtrack A Villain: Killing Eve

When BBC America reached out to do a piece about the music of Killing Eve, we jumped at the opportunity. The series antagonist, Villanelle, is an unpredictable assassin. On a dime she shifts from cold and calculating to child-like and jocular. Her personality swings are accompanied by a captivating psychedelic pop soundtrack. Whether you are familiar with the series or not, this no spoilers episode breaks down music from the 1960s that has earned its place on primetime.  SPONSORED BY BBC AMERICA Songs Discussed Unloved - We Are Unloved  Psychotic Beats - Killer Shangri-:ah The Ronettes - Walking In The rain The Beatles - Strawberry Fields Brigitte Bardot - Contact Betty Hutton - It’s Oh So Quiet Björk - It’s Oh So Quiet Jo Stafford - Some Enchanted Evening Duke Ellington - Skin Deep Roxette - Listen To Your Heart Jacqueline Taieb - La Plus Belle Chanson The Beatles - Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite! Support explainer journalism — all things pop included — by making a contribution to Vox today: Visit Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
05/05/20·39m 36s

Did Fiona Apple Just Release a Perfect Album?

Since 1996, Fiona Apple has only ever had one hit, “Criminal.” Nonetheless, every album she’s released has been nominated for a Grammy. Her newest work, Fetch The Bolt Cutters, has received near universal acclaim. Apple’s songs are simultaneously idiosyncratic and relatable, tackling unusual themes for pop songs: middle school bullies, uncomfortable dinner conversation, toxic masculinity and female friendship. Apple accompanies her idiosyncratic lyrics with homemade percussion and only minimal piano. The final product is on the borderline between crafted composition and impromptu improvisation. It is this duality which makes the work relatable and timeless. Her two song suite “I Want You To Love Me” and “Shameika” have connections to Beethoven, Yeats, and Patti Smith, which we break down in the first half. And listeners call in during the second half to share what moved them about the album.  Songs Discussed Fiona Apple - Fast As You Can, Criminal, Under The Table, I Want You To Want Me, Shameika, Fetch The Bolt Cutters, Ladies, Heavy Balloon  Beethoven - Moonlight Sonata Patti Smith - Gloria: In Excelsis Deo Van Morrison - Gloria Support explainer journalism — all things pop included — by making a contribution to Vox today: Visit Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/04/20·35m 24s

Doja Cat’s “Say So” is a Masterclass in Good Times

Doja Cat has gatecrashed the Top 40 with her effervescent hit “Say So.” How did this Internet personality best known for a song whose chorus is “B***h, I’m a cow!” join the ranks of Dua Lipa, Drake, and The Weeknd? The answer involves a voice that careens from gentle soul to fierce rapping, a catchy chorus that grabs you from the first measure, and most importantly, interpolating the guitar patterns of Nile Rodgers, the secret sauce behind four decades of smash hits.  Songs featured: Doja Cat - Say So, Juicy, Fancy, Moo Chic - Good Times Sugarhill Gang - Rappers Delight Diana Ross - I’m Coming Out David Bowie - Let’s Dance Daft Punk - Get Lucky Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/04/20·30m 46s

Were We Wrong About Kanye West?

A lot of people miss the old Kanye. The last time we reviewed his music was back in 2016 when he released the work-in-progress album “The Life Of Pablo.” Since then, Kanye has put out four albums: Ye, Kids See Ghost (with Kid Cudi), Jesus Is King, and Jesus Is Born (with the Sunday Service Choir). In the same period he’s also caused a media ruckus with his union to the Kardashian family and his foray into political punditry. His public persona has largely overshadowed his musical offerings. But what does the music communicate when we separate it from its messenger? We take the opportunity to listen with an open mind, especially to his most recent two albums. In the first half we examine his recent innovations as one of hip-hop’s best produced with the help of’s Martin Connor. In the second half we speak with music industry veteran and gospel expert Naima Cochrane in order to place Kanye’s spiritual turn in a larger arch of gospel history.  Songs Discussed Kanye West - Follow God, Closed On Sunday, Father Stretch My Hands, Freestyle 4, Every Hour, Golddigger, Famous, Jesus Is Lord, I Thought About Killing You  Fat’s Domino - The Fat Man Run DMC - Walk This Way (ft. Aerosmith) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/04/20·47m 50s

Aussie2Aussie: 5SOS on Tame Impala (with Luke Hemmings & Calum Hood)

The band 5 Seconds Of Summer have just released their fourth studio album, Calm. Lead vocalist Luke Hemmings and bassist Calum Hood join us to talk about some of Australia’s biggest hits. In the first half of our conversation we discuss the catchy rhythms and vocals in Tame Impala’s song “Borderline,” a song driven more by vibe than conventional structures. Then on side B, 5SOS break down their new single single “Wildflower” and its countless 80s references. One sound in particular, the “stab” or “orchestral hit” in "Wildflower's" chorus, truly evokes the 80s. The song’s producer, Rami Yacoub, had used the sound before on Britney Spears “Lucky,” as had 100s of other artists who first got their hands on this sample from an Australian inventor who forever changed the sound of music. Songs Discussed 5 Seconds Of Summer - Youngblood 5 Seconds Of Summer - Who Do You Love 5 Seconds Of Summer - Lie To Me (ft. Julia Michaels)  AC/DC - Highway To Hell Midnight Oil - Beds Are Burning  Tame Impala - Same Ol Mistakes  Tame Impala - Borderline Post Malone - Circles Slipknot - Before I Forget  Massive Attack - Teardrop  Tom Petty - Wildflowers 5 Seconds Of Summer - Wildflower  Fleet Foxes - Ragged Wood Cindy Lauper - Time After Time Oasis - Wonderwall INXS - Need You Tonight Talk Talk - It’s My Life Tears for Fears - Everybody Wants To Rule The World Enya - Orinoco Flow Stravinsky - Firebird Suite Afrika Bambaataa- Planet Rock Pet Shop Boys - Always On My Mind Britney Spears - Lucky  5 Seconds Of Summer - Red Desert  More Estelle Caswell’s Earworm Video on Peter Vogel’s Fairlight CMI and her playlist of Orchestral Hits Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/04/20·37m 16s

The (murder) Ballad of Joe Exotic “Tiger King” (with Robert Moor)

Scandal and intrigue surround Joe Exotic, the central character of the new Netflix documentary Tiger King. Among the many bizarre traits of this zoo keeper, Exotic tries his hand at country music. Interspersed throughout the series, Joe sings about his love of big cats as well as his hatred for his nemesis in a gruesome murder ballad. But it turns out that amongst his many lies, Exotic’s country career may be yet another fabrication. Charlie speaks with journalist Robert Moor, host of the podcast Joe Exotic: Tiger King about who’s really behind the music.  Songs Discussed Joe Exotic - I Saw A Tiger Vince Johnson Band - He’s Loving You Jake Owen - Down To The Honkytonk  Lonestar - My Front Porch Looking In Joe Exotic - Here Kitty Kitty Spindrift - Speak To The Wind Johnny Cash - Long Black Veil Joe Exotic - This Is My Life George Straight - Living For The Night Sean Watkins - I Saw A Tiger More Robert Moor’s Twitter Thread on what Tiger King left out NY Mag: Tiger King Joe Exotic and His American Animals  Podcast: Joe Exotic: Tiger King Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
05/04/20·37m 11s

D’Angelo and the Legacy of Voodoo (with Faith Pennick)

In the year 2000, D'Angelo released Voodoo—with some help from Questlove, Angie Stone, Raphael Saadiq, and a band of jazz veterans—an album that has cast a long shadow with its unique sound of stripped-down soul, Faith Pennick, who literally wrote the book on the record, joins to break how D'Angelo broke the "shiny suit" regime of R&B, explore how he conjured the spirits of J Dilla, Prince, and Roberta Flack, and consider how one video almost derailed his career. Check out D'Angelo's Voodoo by Faith Pennick, from Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 Series Songs discussed: D'Angelo - The Line, The Root, Spanish Joint, Chicken Grease, Untitled (How Does it Feel) Rev JC Burnett - Amazing Grace Prince - Kiss Justin Timberlake - Damn Girl Thundercat - Them Changes Slum Village - CB4 Charlie Hunter and Scott Amendola - There Used to be a Nightclub There Roy Hargrove - Strasbourg / St. Denis Solange - Cranes in the Sky Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
31/03/20·44m 44s

"Happy Birthday" is the Worst (with Anne-Marie)

With Nate’s birthday around the corner, it’s time to admit that our go-to birthday song is actually the worst to sing to someone. There are reasons both musicological and cultural why this wooden celebratory number needs to go, ranging from funereal rhythms to Wagnerian opera to the Wizard of Oz. Tune in to uncover the horror of “Happy Birthday” and consider some of the alternatives on offer, including a recent Anne-Marie hit that takes birthday wishes and turns them around 180º. Songs Discussed Frédéric Chopin - Piano Sonata No 2 in B-Flat Minor, III John Williams - The Imperial March Judy Garland - Over the Rainbow Richard Wagner - Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde The Beatles - Birthday Anne-Marie - Birthday Fetty Wap ft. Monty - Birthday Stevie Wonder - Happy Birthday Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/03/20·34m 24s

Bad Bunny Has A Message For Your Mom

Latin Trap megastar Bad Bunny may be best known to American audiences for his feature on Cardi B’s #1 “I Like It’, but the Puerto Rican native is known to music-lovers worldwide for more than just those few bars. Bunny started off as a student in Universidad de Puerto Rico studying audio visual communications. He was bagging groceries at a supermarket in PR when he posted his song ‘Diles’ on SoundCloud. That moody, 808-fueled track turned into a record deal, as well as huge feature opportunities with bigger acts like Becky G, and of course--Cardi. His newest project, YHLQMDLG (an acronym that stands for the Spanish translation of “I do what I want”) is currently smothering the Hot Latin Billboard Chart. The albums opening track, "Si Veo a Tu Mamá" had us listening to the origins of Bossa nova, and investigate how elevator music-sounding samples and overused chord progressions add up to latin trap magic for El Conejito Malo.  Special thanks to Bad Bunny super fan and listener Maita, for never giving up hope :) Songs discussed: Bad Bunny - Diles Becky G ft. Bad Bunny - Mayores Cardi B ft. Bad Bunny, J Balvin - I Like It Bad Bunny ft. Drake - MIA  Bad Bunny - Si Veo a tu Mamá Antônio Carlos Jobim - The Girl From Ipanema Bad Bunny - Soliá Bad Bunny ft. Kendo Kaponi, Arcangel - P FKN R Bad Bunny ft. Jowell & Randy, Nengo Flow - Safeara Missy Elliot - Get Ur Freak On Bad Bunny - <3 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/03/20·35m 50s

The Fire & Fury Of Overcoats

Gone are the days of a clear dividing line between “mainstream pop” and “conscious” music. Many of the world’s highest-grossing pop stars are climbing the charts with lyrics that seem to get right at the very weight of human existence. They’re tackling climate change, and drug addiction, crippling anxiety, inequality, sexism and racism. It’s a fascinating shift to witness. That’s why this week, we’re especially thrilled to be chatting with folk-pop duo Overcoats. JJ Mitchell and Hana Elion are known for otherworldly harmonies that sound more like a single voice diverging in two rather than the other way around. We discuss two singles off their new album “The Fight” (out now), and reflect on how seemingly small decisions about a song’s arrangement can make things like anxiety and microaggressions feel a bit easier to carry. Here’s a teaser quote from the episode that we’ll be thinking about for a while: “We often use repetition as a way of saying something until you believe it...that’s very true for this song as well. We’re singing ‘There’s a fire / There’s a fury’ feels apocalyptic. But the more you say ‘We’ll get through it’ and the more voices join in, it starts to feel true, and starts to feel hopeful.” SONGS DISCUSSED Overcoats - The Fool Overcoats - Fire & Fury The Supremes - Stop In The Name Of Love LCD Soundsystem - Watch The Tapes Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/03/20·38m 33s

Can't Help Falling in Lauv (the interview)

This week, Charlie talks to Lauv, the singer, songwriter and producer behind unfailingly catchy tracks such as “Mean It” and “I Like Me Better.” Lauv’s a master at making the sad feel fun—masking themes of anxiety and betrayal with upbeat, percussive production. He even does a bit of the opposite, too, by infusing his joyful songs with vulnerability and emotional complexity. You’ll soon be able to hear all of that and more on his debut studio album, ~how I’m feeling~, out later this week. Our conversation explores Lauv’s song-making process and touches on everything from T Swift (Lauv counts himself a fan), “mind” rhymes, and the particular nuances of loneliness in the internet age. Today’s episode also features the voices of some of our wonderful listeners--special thanks to Katy, Sadie, Robert, Genevieve, Keen and everyone else who wrote in with questions for Lauv. Songs Discussed: Lauv with Anne-Marie - fuck, i'm lonely Lauv & LANY - Mean It Lauv - I Like Me Better Lauv & Troye Sivan - i’m so tired... Lauv - Changes Lauv - Modern Loneliness Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/03/20·33m 56s

What Happens When Justin Bieber Samples Your Music

When Bristol-based producer Laxcity logged onto Twitter to find out that Justin Bieber sampled his music, he was at first unphased. The sampled material came from a royalty-free sample pack on, free for Splice users to add to their track. Then accusations of theft started rolling in. Another artist, Asher Monroe, had used the same sample just a few weeks earlier and he accused Bieber of copying the idea. Laxcity inserted himself into the argument to show that the so-called offending sound, was in fact his, but not limited to anyone’s use. This mixup led to Bieber shouting out Laxcity, giving the nascent producer a career boost. On his episode we speak with Laxcity, Splice CEO Steve Martocci, PEX COO Amadea Choplin and Verge reporter Dani Deahl (who first reported the story) to unpack how sampling works in today’s music. Then we hear how Beiber’s new album, “Changes,” interprets the sample to convey Bieber’s personal evolution in the public eye. Songs Discussed Laxcity - Good Morning (Splice Sample) Asher Monroe - Synergy Justin Bieber - Running Over, Sorry, Available, Yummy, Intentions Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/02/20·35m 6s

Return Of The Guitar: Halsey, 5 Seconds of Summer, Joji

In 2019 guitar made a comeback in the top 10. According to analysis from Hit Songs Deconstructed, about a third of all songs featured the electric guitar, a nearly 10% jump from the year before. In 2020 this trend isn’t stopping. Recent releases by Halsey, 5 Seconds of Summer and Joji all prominently feature electric guitars tones. They reference 90s nu-metal, grunge and metal genres. More than a nostalgic nod, these songs draw from an era that was self-consciously “alternative” to convey disaffection, frustration and longing. SONGS DISCUSSED Khalid, Normani - Love Lies Juice WRLD - Lucid Dreams Halsey - Without Me Joji - Slow Dancing In The Dark Joji - Run Metallica - Enter Sandman Santo & Jonny - Sleep Walk Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode Buddy Holly - That’ll Be The Day LCD Soundsystem - Losing My Edge 5 Seconds Of Summer - No Shame Nirvana - Come As You Are Halsey - Experiment On Me Rage Against The Machine - Bulls On Parade Limp Bizkit - Break Stuff MORE Listen to our conversation about MIA’s “Paper Planes” and Drake’s “God’s Plan” with Sam Sanders on NPR’s It’s Been A Minute Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/02/20·27m 44s

Look At Selena Gomez Now with Justin Tranter & Ian Kirkpatrick

Selena Gomez has her first #1 song on the Hot 100. “Lose You To Love Me” is a confessional look at her past five years of heartbreak and health challenges. By contrast, her single “Look At Her Now” is a testament to moving on and moving up. Each of these songs inhabits a different musical and lyrical world and we were lucky to get to speak with her collaborators on the songs to take us behind the scenes of how they came to be. Justin Tranter and Ian Kirkpatrick are two of today’s most in-demand writers. They walk us through how Selena takes her personal emotions and translates them into public catharsis on her album “Rare.” Songs Discussed Selena Gomez - Vulnerable, Lose You To Love Me, Look At Her Now Crash Test Dummies - Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmmm Dua Lipa - New Rules More Watch Selena Gomez interviewed by Zane Lowe on Beats One. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/02/20·37m 56s

Five Directions: How do the solo efforts of One Direction stack up?

The boy band One Direction has been on hiatus for nearly five years, yet only now have all of the members of the group released a solo album. But how do these efforts from Niall, Liam, Harry, Louis and Zayn stack up? Vox Writer (and One Direction fan) Alexa Lee compares albums as a challenge for each member to rise to their greatest artistic potential. SONGS DISCUSSED Zayn - Let Me Zayn - Entertainer Niall Horan - Nice To Meet You Niall Horan - Put A Little Love On Me Liam Payne - Strip That Down Liam Payne - Hips Don't Lie Louis Tomlinson - Walls Louis Tomlinson - Kill My Mind Harry Styles - Adore You Harry Styles - Watermelon Sugar Harry Styles - Cherry MORE Read Alexa’s piece “2 winners and 3 losers from One Direction’s solo albums” Listen to Nate convince Charlie to love One Direction in an early episode of Switched On Pop Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/02/20·36m 40s

Post Malone has us Running in Circles

Post Malone has confounded your hosts since he emerged on the scene, so this week we sit down to try and get to the bottom of our cycles of attraction and repulsion through deep analysis of his current hit, "Circles." Along the way, we discuss trenchant questions such as: How is the minor IV always the saddest of all chords? Why does Posty tend to sound like a certain ruminant mammal? And, what happens when you plug Tchaikovsky into a Wu Tang name generator? Songs Discussed: Post Malone - Circles, Rockstar, Stay, Congratulations, Candy Paint, Fleetwood Mac - Landslide Tchaikovsky - Symphony No 6, Finale And don't forget to enter the Wu Tang Name Generator Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/01/20·40m 14s

Hopes and Fears of Mac Miller, Future, Drake, and Billie Eilish

Mac Miller, Future and Billie Eilish all have good and bad news to share. On Miller’s posthumous album, Circles, he exposes personal struggles with fame, addiction, and mental illness — sobering topics given his unintentional drug overdose last year. Yet at the same time we hear him searching for “good news,” practicing self care and accepting that “there's a whole lot more” waiting. Future & Drake’s celebration of material excess also finds them “working on the weekend” just to keep up appearances. Similarly, Billie Eilish has achieved “everything [she] wanted,” but dreams of death and darkness overwhelm her. But she’s buoyed by the support of her brother FINNEAS. Many pop songs are about a single emotion: love, heartbreak or exuberant joy. But these great songs evoke more complex emotions, existing somewhere in a liminal space between our hopes and fears. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/01/20·44m 7s

Dua Lipa’s Disco Fever

Dua Lipa remembers the disco era in her hit “Don’t Start Now.” What may sound like just another dance floor track, upon deeper listening unfolds as a celebration of the genre. References to Gloria Gaynor, Chic, Giorgio Moroder and The Bee Gees are all waiting here for the curious listener to uncover. But so are the Italian and Daft Punk inspired bass lines. Yet the song is more than just one big disco ball cliché. It is brilliantly written too. We asked our listeners to help us highlight the best moments of the song as this is a song that continues to sound anew upon each playback. In 2020, the influence of Disco is still very much alive and Dua Lip’s “Don’t Start Now,” written with Caroline Ailin, Emily Warren and Ian Kirkpatrick, is a shining example of a great contemporary disco track.  Songs Discussed Dua Lipa - Don’t Start Now Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive Chic - Good Times Giorgio Mordoer - Baby Blue The Bee Gees - You Should Be Dancing The Michael Zager Band - Let’s All Chant MFSP - TSOP Todd Terje - Strandbar Piano Fred Falke and Alan Brav - Intro Daft Punk - Voyager Ryan Paris - Dolce Vita Madison Avenue - Don’t Call Me Baby Marvin Gaye - Got To Give It Up Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/01/20·38m 54s

ICYMI: Chance The Rapper, Kehlani, & The Shifting Sound of R&B — with Oak Felder

The sound of R&B is difficult to pin down. Since the 1950s, the label has been used both as a genre and as a catch-all for the entirety of black popular music. Soul, funk, disco and even hip-hop have at times been covered by this "R&B" umbrella. On Chance The Rapper's new album, The Big Day, all of these influences come through—and he's not alone. On recent Kehlani records, 90s R&B and 2000s trap both play a role. But both these artists are a far cry from the 50s R&B sounds of Sam Cooke. To understand how R&B has changed over time, we consult with Trevor Anderson, manager of Billboard's R&B/Hip Hop chart. Then we speak with R&B super-producer Oak Felder to understand how R&B is progressing and what it might become. Songs Discussed Chance The Rapper – Hot Shower Chance The Rapper – I Got You Sam Cooke – You Send Me Elvis Presley – Crying In the Chapel The Temptations – I Can’t Get Next To You Mtume – Juicy Fruit Biggie – Juicy Toni Braxton – Breath Again Janet Jackson – That’s The Way Love Goes Boys II Men – I’ll Make Love To You Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing) Diddy – I’ll Be Missing You (feat. Faith Evans & 112) Nelly – Dilemma Kehlani – Distraction SWV – Weak Aaron Hall – I Miss You Usher – You Make Me Wanna Brandy – Sit-in Up In My Room Dru Hill – In My Bed Silk – Freak Me Demi Lovato – Sorry Not Sorry Jodeci – Cry For you Mariah Carey – Vision of Love Kehlani Everything Is Yours Chance The Rapper – All Day Long Queen – Fat Bottom Girls Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out For an in depth history of R&B on Billboard, read Chris Molanphy's feature on Pitchfork. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/01/20·55m 53s

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

On a trajectory to be one of the biggest pop stars for this generation, seventeen year old Billie Eilish is not, however, your typical pop star. Her music speaks to the real anxieties of young people without any veneer. She sings from the perspective of monsters and villains. Her hushed voice, baggy style, and direct demeanor subvert the norms of the pop princess. And her music is dark, but still catchy. Billie co-writes and produces her sound with her older brother Finneas O’Connell. Together this family duo have crafted the second biggest selling album of 2019, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” On this episode, we examine how Billie and Finneas crafted a cultural phenomenon, why their message speaks to this generation, and we speak with Finneas about the creation of their hit song “Bad Guy.” MORE Watch Billie and Finneas break down “Bury A Friend” on The New York TimesBillie Eilish – Ocean Eyes Billie Eilish – Bored Billie Eilish – You Should See Me In A Crown Billie Eilish – Bad Guy Billie Eilish – Bury A Friend Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People The Doors – People Are Strange Nine Inch Nails – Closer Billie Eilish – ilomilo Billie Eilish – All Good Girls Go To Hell Billie Eilish – Xanny Frank Sinatra – Dream A Dream Billie Eilish – I love you John Carpenter – Halloween Theme Billie Eilish – Bellyache MORE Billie Eilish explained on Watch Billie and Finneas break down “Bury A Friend” on The New York Times Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
31/12/19·46m 49s

Dolly Parton's America (with Jad Abumrad)

There are icons, and then there’s Dolly Parton. The country singer-turned-actress-turned-cultural phenomenon has produced a nearly unparalleled body of work, in both quantity (Parton is the sole or co-author of more than three thousand songs) and in legacy. Despite releasing her first album over 60 years ago, Parton’s songs are still covered and performed live by today’s pop artists. Presidential candidates are still selecting her songs as official walk-on music. So what is it exactly that makes her music so enduring? Today, we select four essential Dolly songs for dissection and try to answer that big question with the help of composer, longtime radio-maker and host of the new hit podcast, Dolly Parton’s America--Jad Abumrad. Whether or not you identify as a Dolly Parton fan, or even a country music fan, we think you’ll love this one. Songs discussed Dolly Parton - Dumb Blonde Dolly Parton - Down from Dover Dolly Parton - Jolene Dolly Parton - Light of a Clear Blue Morning Kesha - Praying Mariah Carey - Hero Andra Day - Rise Up Dolly Parton - 9 to 5 Stevie Wonder - I Wish Dolly Parton - Mule Skinner Blues Thanks to Jad, producer Shima Oliaee and the rest of the Dolly Parton’s America team. You can check out the eight episodes they’ve released so far, and keep an eye out for the final one at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/12/19·40m 50s

Who's Afraid of the Sound of TikTok? (w Cat Zhang)

Bass distorted to the edge of audibility; voices croaking out dark and violent lyrics; a hacked-together DIY aesthetic. This isn't a fringe musical movement, this is the sound of TikTok, the video app used by millions in Generation Z. And soon enough it might also be the sound of pop as we know it. Cat Zhang from Pitchfork stops by to clue us into the sonic reality of music's newest platform, from Gordon Ramsay to pumpkins screaming in the dead of night. Songs Discussed Savage Ga$p, 93FEETOFSMOKE - Pumpkins scream in the dead of night haroinfather, Savage Ga$sp - Tunnel of Love Arizona Zervas - ROXANNE HL Wave, Jhonny Flames - Gordon Ramsay Hooligan Chase - Asshole Comethazine - Walk Peter Kuli, Jed Will - ok boomer Young Spool, Jakob - WTF Check out Cat's article The Anatomy of a TikTok Hit on Pitchfork Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/12/19·36m 8s

Paper Planes, Chandelier & What the #@%! is Timbre? (with Constance Grady)

We hand over the hosting duties to Constance Grady, book reviewer for, to discuss our new book/baby - Switched on Pop: How Popular Music Works and Why it Matters, and go deep on two specific concepts we haven’t touched nearly enough on the show: timbre (with the help of Sia’s “Chandelier) and sampling (via M.I.A.’s iconic “Paper Planes). The book of course goes further, devoting a full chapter each to sixteen different concepts we’ve explored on the show (think harmony, modulation, syncopation, genre), and pairing those concepts with the pop tracks that really bring them to life.  There are so many people who helped us get this thing from concept to bound stack of papers that you can hold in your hands, but right now, right here, we want to shout out: our listeners. You all shape the show every week by suggesting incredible episode ideas and recommending songs for us to break down. You also inspired this book, when you asked us year in and year out for a definitive guide to the essential musical knowledge necessary to understand contemporary pop. We hope you like it, and know that your emails, tweets and analysis continue to delight and inspire us to no end. SONGS DISCUSSED Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe Sia - Chandelier M.I.A. - Paper Planes MORE Switched on Pop: How Popular Music Works and Why it Matters is available now! Find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound or buy directly from Oxford University Press. Book illustrations by the indomitable Iris Gottlieb: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/12/19·39m 43s

Prelude & Feud on a 'G' Thang: Biggie vs Tupac

The East Coast / West Coast hip hop feud between Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls is full of tragedy and conspiracy, but what did it really sound like? For the third season of of the hit podcast Slow Burn, host Joel Anderson and producer Christopher Johnson dig up untold stories about this infamous rivalry, and they join Nate and Charlie to break down boom bap, G Funk, and the surprising points of overlap between two titans of rap. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/12/19·45m 11s

Pop is the Sound We Need Right Now (with Electric Guest)

Electric Guest (Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton) take a left turn towards pop on “Dollar" — a song about making more out of less, something too many people find themselves to do right now. The music follows the same principle, turning cheap synths and canned horns into a symphony of sound. We chat with Asa about how the track — equally inspired by Stevie Wonder and Bertolt Brecht —came to be and why pop can be a balm in dark times. Songs Featured Electric Guest - Dollar Stevie Wonder - Uptight (Everything's Alright) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/11/19·41m 32s

The Past, Present, and Future of EMO (with Allegra Frank)

Nate doesn’t know much about the musical style known as emo. Sadly, he was too busy nerding out on jazz during his youthful years to catch the moment. That’s a shame, because emo is experiencing a revival right now - most surprisingly within the world of hip hop. All of which leaves Nate in the awkward position of not really having any idea what’s going on, so thank goodness for some schooling by Vox culture reporter Allegra Frank, who spent her teenage years the right way: getting emotional to the soundtrack of emo. Her first lesson about this endlessly fascinating subculture? It’s way more than just a sound.  Songs discussed: Sunny Day Real Estate - Seven Jawbreaker - Do You Still Hate Me?! My Chemical Romance - I’m Not Okay (I Promise) Fall Out Boy - Sugar, We’re Goin Down Panic! At the Disco - I Write Sins not Tragedies Jimmy Eat World - Lucky Denver Mint Jimmy Eat World - A Praise Chorus Jimmy Eat World - The Middle American Football - Never Meant Foxing - Lich My Prince  The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die - Heartbeat in the Brain Check out more of Allegra’s work here: And learn more about Tom Mullen and Washed Out Emo here: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
19/11/19·53m 13s

When Pop and Classical Collide (with James Bennett II)

Once upon a time, classical music was pop, so today it's worth stepping back and asking: where does one genre stop and the other begin? Can classical ever be popular again? And why do only some classical tracks makes for good samples? Luckily James Bennett II of classical station WQXR is on hand to break down these and other musical conundrums, including but not limited to: killer opera clowns, Bach hip hop hybrids, and the namesake album of this very podcast. Songs discussed: Dessa and the Minnesota Orchestra - Chaconne Enrico Caruso - Vesti la Giubbia Mario Lanza - Because You’re Mine Wendy Carlos - Prelude and Fugue in C Minor Jackie Evancho - Nessun Dorma Jackie Evancho - Burn Lindsay Stirling - Underground Vitamin String Quartet - Shallow Florence Price - Symphony 1 Nas - I Can Black Eyed Peas - Back 2 Hip Hop Victoria - Impropreia Kanye West - Gone Check out more of James's writing here: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Unlocking the Rhythms of Rosalía

Back in the fall of 2017, our producer Megan Lubin went for a stroll near her house, popped in earbuds, and heard a song that’s stuck with her ever since: “Si Tú Supieras Compañero” (“If you only knew, my friend”), by the Spanish pop star Rosalía. Since then, Rosalía’s star has continued, especially after the 2018 release of “El Mal Querer,” Rosalía’s genre-blending album of R&B and flamenco.  On this episode, we dig into Rosalía’s sound to try and figure out what stopped Megan in her tracks back then, and what keeps us coming back. With the help of New York Times Magazine writer Marcela Valdes, we break down key elements of the flamenco tradition, like the hard-to-define magic of duende, and count out some of the diabolical rhythms that keep us dancing.  Songs Discussed Rosalía - Si Tú Supieras Compañero Rosalía - BAGDAD (Cap.7: Liturgia)  Rosalía - PIENSO EN TU MIRÁ (Cap.3: Celos) Episode Spotify Playlist: Read “Rosalía’s Incredible Journey from Flamenco to Megastardom” by Marcela Valdes: Watch Rosalía performing “Me quedo contigo”: More coverage of Rosalía from The FADER magazine: **A previous version of this episode claimed that Alicia Key's "Fallin'", Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man", "Marvin Gaye's "Here, My Dear" and Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" were all written in 3/4 time. That was in error, and we've edited the episode to reflect that. CORRECTION After airing this episode, listeners informed us that many Romani people consider the term “gypsy” to be antiquated, discriminatory and derogatory. We apologize for airing this this word in the episode, and will avoid its usage in all forgoing work. See the NOW foundation’s explanation for further detail: The “G” Word Isn’t for You: How “Gypsy” Erases Romani Women Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
05/11/19·49m 39s

Rihanna Party! (with Gina Delvac)

Last year, NPR Music ran an audacious headline: "Rihanna Is The 21st Century's Most Influential Musician." Millions and millions of fans the world over agree, and while we try to avoid overt expressions of pop favoritism, we think they’ve got a strong case. It’s for that reason and a dozen others that we were thrilled to welcome Gina Delvac of the hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend back to the show to discuss the legendary career of one Ms. Robyn Rihanna Fenty. As we all await her ninth studio album (R9), join us for a virtual* blunt-smoke-laced tour through the hit songs that defined her early sound, and a delectable deep dive into her most recent album, ANTI. *Zero blunts were enjoyed at the time of recording. Songs Discussed Rihanna - Pon de Replay Rihanna ft. Jay-Z - Umbrella Rihanna - What’s My Name Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris - We Found Love  Rihanna - Cheers (Drink to That) Rihanna - You Da One Rihanna - B*tch Better Have My Money Rihanna ft. Drake - Work Rihanna ft. SZA - Consideration Rihanna - Needed Me Check out Jenny Gathright's NPR article “Rihanna Is The 21st Century's Most Influential Musician” here: And find even more work from our wonderful contributors this week down below: Gina: Ivie: Zoe: Cate: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29/10/19·55m 15s

Why U Love 2 Listen 2 Prince (with Anil Dash)

Anil Dash is obsessed with Prince. Since he’s the host of the tech podcast Function, he has a unique perspective on the Purple One’s complicated relationship with technology. Anil joins the show to break down the many ways that Prince predicted the sound and science of modern pop, from drum machines to online distribution to internet culture. We’ll discuss how Michael Jackson jacked Prince’s electronic experimentation for Thriller, why Prince liked to lurk in fan chat rooms, and how he found ways to change his sound without ever sacrificing his integrity. We’re only beginning to understand Prince’s legacy, but Anil takes us one step closer to fully appreciating the ahead-of-their-time talents of a once-in-a-century artist.  Songs featured: Prince - 1999 Kraftwerk - The Robots Talking Heads - Once in a Lifetime Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - The Message The Human League - Don’t You Want Me Baby Prince - Little Red Corvette Michael Jackson - Thriller Santana ft. Rob Thomas - Smooth Prince ft. Eve - Hot Wit U Prince ft. Ani Difranco - Eye Love U, But Eye Don’t Trust U Anymore Prince - How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore Prince - Black Sweat Prince - THIS COULD BE US Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
22/10/19·34m 29s

A Brief History of Men Singing Really High

Men singing high is so ubiquitous in modern pop that we might take it granted, never pausing to ask: has it always been this way? Estelle Caswell, who makes the Emmy-winning Earworm series for Vox, decided to find out, and she stops by to share results from her painstaking study of male falsetto in pop music from 1958 to today. Some of her findings may surprise, like 1996 was the peak year for falsetto, Justin Timberlake doesn't sing as you high at might think, and falsetto has been around as long as pop itself.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/10/19·46m 56s

Total Request Live! Taylor, Lana, Kim, and More (with Sam Sanders)

NPR's Sam Sanders stops by to break down the tracks that Switched On listeners have been loving. Swedish dancefloor confessionals, songs that stop time, the specificity of Lana Del Rey, and the awkwardness of descending fourths: it's all on the table in this freewheeling conversation of deep musical nerdiness. Songs DiscussedTove Lo ft Kylie Minogue - Really don’t like uCamila Cabello - LiarAce of Base - All That She WantsTyler the Creator - EARFQUAKETaylor Swift - Cruel SummerLana Del Rey, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus - Don’t Call Me AngelLana Del Rey - Happiness is a butterflyKing Princess - ProphetKim Petras - Hillside BoysIDK - PornoJai Paul - Str8 Outta MumbaiJai Paul - Genevieve (Unfinished)Many thanks to everyone who called in for this one: Amanda, Jackie, Melanie, Alec, Madeleine, John B, Steve, Courtney, Julia, Zach, Lee, Tara, Habbi, and of course - John from Baltimore. For more of Sam's great takes on culture, check out It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders.  CORRECTION: A version of this episode incorrectly stated that Jack Antonoff was a writer on the song "Lover." Taylor Swift was the sole credited songwriter on that song, while Jack Antonoff has a production credit on the piece. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/10/19·42m 48s

Mastering Music (with Dallas Taylor of Twenty Thousand Hertz)

Dallas Taylor, host of the stellar sound design series Twenty Thousand Hertz, stops by to fill Nate in on the science and style of mastering: the subtle art that explains why Metallica had to re-release a controversial album, Kanye sounds so crisp, and why the best pop really pops.  Songs Discussed Lizzo - Juice Kanye West - Heartless Led Zeppelin - Stairway to heaven Pink Floyd - Money Daft Punk - Get Lucky Metallica - The Day That Never Comes DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper The Beatles - Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds Intrigued by mastering? Get your fix with the Twenty Thousand Hertz episode The [Compressed] History of Mastering. We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/10/19·56m 38s

Jazz 1959

Charlie's out on parental leave, which means no one is here to stop Nate from going off the rails. And you know what means... JAZZ! As soon as dad left the room, Nate enlisted his favorite journalist, jazz and sports writer Natalie Weiner, to come on the show and discuss her incredible 1959 Project — a day-by-day chronicle of jazz during one of its most pivotal years. We listen to classic 1959 albums Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and Dave Brubeck's Take Out, discuss the complex legacy of Billie Holiday, and dig into some of the year's forgotten gems. Sixty years later, jazz is no longer the cultural juggernaut is once was — but it still has much to teach us about pop culture of the present. Playlist: •Miles Davis - So What •Dave Brubeck - Take Five •Billie Holiday - Blue Moon •Billie Holiday - Billie's Blues •Erykah Badu - On & On •Amy Winehouse - There Is No Greater Love •Muriel Roberts - Sleigh Ride •Terry Pollard - Laura •Willene Barton and her Trio - Rice Pudding Check out the 1959 and 2019 jazz cuts we're listening to. We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/09/19·49m 9s

BONUS: Charli XCX and The Future of Music (with Dani Deahl)

The pace of new music releases these days is dizzying. Sometimes it’s like watching someone do a magic trick--we *swear* those songs weren’t there a second ago! But then, there they are, popping up in batches right out of thin air. Of course, behind each individual release sits months of decision-making by the artist: who to collaborate with and when, how to structure the musical product of that collaboration, what to call it, how to release it, when, and on what platform. The list is long, and each of those choices has a big impact on how we hear the song. The Verge’s Dani Deahl recently sat down with reigning Princess of Pop, Charli XCX, to discuss how she approaches those decisions, and how that approach is bucking long-established norms in popular music. In this special bonus episode of Switched on Pop, Dani rings up Charlie (not XCX) to recap that conversation and put Charli (XCX)’s artistry in context. Via Dani, we learn that for Charli collaboration is more than just an artistic choice; and release strategy is much more than a major label playbook. There’s a total freedom in the way Charli releases music, and we love it. Huge thanks to Dani for bringing us this peek into her world. Songs discussed:Charli XCX - Boom ClapCharli XCX, Christine and the Queens - GoneCharli XCX ft. Lizzo - Blame It On Your LoveLizzo - Truth HurtsCatch the rest of Dani’s conversation with both Charli/es in the newest episode of The Verge’s ‘Future of Music’ video series, We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
22/09/19·34m 46s

The “Baby Shark” Phenomenon (with Andrea Silenzi)

For most parents, “Baby Shark” is the nightmare that will not end. Ever since the South Korean educational company Pinkfong released the song earlier this year, it’s almost impossible to avoid. The infectious children’s tune has more than 2.3 billion views on YouTube and made it onto the Billboard Top 40 list. So what makes this song so catchy and irresistible to children? And how do the rest of us cope with the unavoidable hit while keeping our sanity? Andrea Silenz, host of the parenting podcast The Longest Shortest Time, and Charlie explore the phenomenon that is “Baby Shark. Songs DiscussedPinkfong - Baby SharkFrank Zappa - Baby SnakesStevie Wonder - Isn’t She Lovely Suzanne Vega - Tom’s DinerBaby Shark/ Tom’s Diner mashup “Baby Diner”The Weeknd - I Can’t Feel My FaceRadioheadPinkfong - The Penguin DancePinkfong - Lions in LoveDrake - God’s PlanMicheal Jackson - Billie JeanWhitney Houston - I Wanna Dance With SomebodyBruno Mars - Uptown FunkBeastie Boys - Brass MonkeyVanilla Ice - Ice Ice BabyJosh Groban - River The Beatles - All You Need Is LoveHarry Potter theme Raffi - Baby Beluga  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/09/19·36m 52s

BONUS: Who are the Picassos of pop? (with Ross Golan)

Ross Golan is no stranger to Switched on Pop. This week, the songwriter and host of the hit podcast And The Writer Is… joins Charlie for a BONUS episode (cue siren) about the surprising lessons learned from a collective seven years behind the interview mic. Tune in as Ross and Charlie discuss the infinite shelf-life of classic songwriting techniques, the happy accidents behind some of your favorite hit songs, and the essential qualities of a good listener. Find more Ross on Switched on Pop in Episode 58, ‘What’s to Love About Ed Sheeran?’, and catch more of And The Writer Is… when Season 5 premiers this Monday, September 9th — anywhere you listen to podcasts. Episodes discussed:#80 How to ‘Make Me Feel’ with Lizzo#123 What BTS’s “Boy With Love” ft. Halsey Can Teach Us About K-pop#99 Entering Beard Phase (with Mike Posner)#107 How Streaming Changed the Sound of PopSongs Discussed:Lizzo - Truth HurtsSister Nancy - Bam BamPaul Anka - Put Your Hand on My ShoulderBTS ft. Halsey - Boy with LuvAriana Grande - Break Free Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
13/09/19·47m 24s

Switched Off Book the Improvised Musical (with Jess McKenna and Zach Reino)

On this very special episode, we join forces with the hilarious podcast OFF BOOK. When our powers combine, Zach and Jess of Off Book, plus their killer backing band of Scott, Dana and Brett create an improvised musical, while Nate and Charlie break down the sound and structure of a Broadway show. Stay tuned for deep thoughts about what separates pop music from musicals, wild speculation about the origin of the word “vamp,” and an ENTIRE FREAKING MUSICAL COMPOSED FROM SCRATCH that will make you laugh your face off. This is not one to miss. Find more episodes of Off Book on their website, or anywhere you find podcasts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/09/19·1h 31m

ICYMI: How to 'Make Me Feel' with Lizzo

"Make Me Feel," is the first hit from Janelle Monáe's 2018 album Dirty Computer,  and a sensual song about the fluidity of desire. In the pre-chorus, the singer proudly expresses that she is a "sexual bender." Fans have embraced the song for breaking free of normative sexual expectations. But these non-binary statements aren't limited to the lyrics. The message is reinforced with musical concepts drawn from the blues, Prince and Michael Jackson. To help break down this track, Nate and Charlie are joined by singer/rapper Lizzo. She and Monáe both collaborated with Prince, making Lizzo uniquely qualified to unwind his influence on the song. We also discuss Lizzo's song "Truth Hurts" and her podcast "Good As Hell" where she talks to the queens of hip hop. Hands down, Lizzo is one of the most talented, knowledgable and fun guests. You don't want to miss this episode. Songs DiscussedJanelle Monáe - Make Me FeelMichael Jackson - The Way You Make Me FeelMichael Jackson - Beat ItFats Domino - Blueberry HillPrince - KissYing Yang Twins - Wait (The Whisper Song)Lizzo - Truth HurtsSister Nancy - Bam Don't miss Lizzo's podcast "Good As Hell" on Spotify Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/09/19·52m 16s

ICYMI: Why is 90s Pop so Bizarre?

Today we're revisiting an episode inspired by a pair of classic VH1 shows: “Behind the Music” and “Where Are They Now?” Our subjects are two songs representing the lunatic fringe of 90s culture, “Cotton Eyed Joe” and “How Bizarre.” In the course of our musicological investigation, we uncover dark truths about these seemingly anodyne hits that will make you question everything you know about pop music. And in the end, we reach a definitive answer to a perennially vexing question: “WTF was 90s music so weird?” Songs Discussed Rednex: Cotton Eye Joe Pop in an Oak The Way I Mate Cotton Eyed Joe: Fiddlin John Carson Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys Karen Dalton Chieftains Nina Simone OMC: How Bizarre Right On Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
27/08/19·48m 30s

Songs of Summer Call-in Special

Every year, critics and media outlets the world over put out definitive song-of-summer guides based on... well, we’re not always entirely sure. Certainly popularity, as measured by streams and radio play; not to mention that bewildering feeling that creeps up some time mid-July, prompting whispered exclamations of: “man, this song is everywhere.” But the most ubiquitous track isn’t necessarily the one you’ll have on repeat on those steamy summer commutes to work, nor is it the song you’ll want soundtracking this year’s vacations, graduations, summer flings and backyard cookouts. In this episode, we abandon the pursuit of a single song of summer, and ask the question we’re more interested in: What does summer sound like? To answer that question, we asked you, our listeners, and got some downright awesome suggestions in return. Your voicemails covered everything from Hot Girl Summer anthems and nostalgia-inducing dance jams, to globally infused collaborations and just-released future-feeling indie rock cuts. Today, we travel across the full spectrum of summer feels, and the music that comes through when we need it the most. Songs DiscussedMUNA - Number One FanAmber Mark - Put You OnJonas Brothers - Only HumanShawn Mendes, Camila Cabello - SeñoritaCharlie XCX, Christine and the Queens - GoneBTS, Zara Larsson - Brand New DayKaty Perry - Teenage DreamPost Malone - SunflowerLil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus - Old Town RoadPinkfong - Baby Shark Khalid - BetterMegan Thee Stallion - Big ol’ FreakMegan Thee Stallion, Juicy J - Simon SaysSaweetie - My TypePetey Pablo - Freak-A-LeakCity Girls - Act UpMegan Thee Stallion, DaBaby - Cash ShitClairo - Sofia HAIM - Summer GirlLou Reed - Walk on the Wild SideMother’s Daughter - Miley CyrusRosalía - Aute CutureAriana Grande - NASABANKS - GimmeGrimes, Hana - We appreciate powerLizzo - Truth HurtsPaul McCartney - JetDon Henley - The Boys of SummerSantana, Rob Thomas - SmoothBritney Spears - ToxicThe Slits - I Heard it Through the Grapevine Missy Elliott - SlideFreddie Gibbs, Madlib - CataractsVampire Weekend - 2021 Misc extras Listen to all of these songs and more on the Switched on Pop Songs of Summer 2019 Playlist.  Note In this episode we made light of PTSD by using the term irreverently - thanks to listener feedback we're better aware of how destructive such diminishing comments can be to people dealing with trauma. We apologize for the misuse and will strive to avoid it in the future.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/08/19·53m 59s

Chance The Rapper, Kehlani, & The Shifting Sound of R&B — with Oak Felder

The sound of R&B is difficult to pin down. Since the 1950s, the label has been used both as a genre and as a catch-all for the entirety of black popular music. Soul, funk, disco and even hip-hop have at times been covered by this "R&B" umbrella. On Chance The Rapper's new album, The Big Day, all of these influences come through—and he's not alone. On recent Kehlani records, 90s R&B and 2000s trap both play a role. But both these artists are a far cry from the 50s R&B sounds of Sam Cooke. To understand how R&B has changed over time, we consult with Trevor Anderson, manager of Billboard's R&B/Hip Hop chart. Then we speak with R&B super-producer Oak Felder to understand how R&B is progressing and what it might become. Songs Discussed Chance The Rapper – Hot Shower Chance The Rapper – I Got You Sam Cooke – You Send Me Elvis Presley – Crying In the Chapel The Temptations – I Can’t Get Next To You Mtume – Juicy Fruit Biggie – Juicy Toni Braxton – Breath Again Janet Jackson – That’s The Way Love Goes Boys II Men – I’ll Make Love To You Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing) Diddy – I’ll Be Missing You (feat. Faith Evans & 112) Nelly – Dilemma Kehlani – Distraction SWV – Weak Aaron Hall – I Miss You Usher – You Make Me Wanna Brandy – Sit-in Up In My Room Dru Hill – In My Bed Silk – Freak Me Demi Lovato – Sorry Not Sorry Jodeci – Cry For you Mariah Carey – Vision of Love Kehlani Everything Is Yours Chance The Rapper – All Day Long Queen – Fat Bottom Girls Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out For an in depth history of R&B on Billboard, read Chris Molanphy's feature on Pitchfork. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
13/08/19·55m 19s

Beyoncé's Gift To Africa (with Ivie Ani)

For the live action remake of the Lion King, Beyoncé, (who voices Nala in the film), recorded and curated a companion soundtrack called The Gift. She worked with leading Afropop stars to expose the music of the continent to a global audience. In her piece, “Diversity Is in the Details: What Beyoncé’s 'The Lion King: The Gift' Gets Right and Wrong,” Okayplayer music editor Ivie Ani argues that the album highlights music while unintentionally treating the continent as a monolith. Ani joins Switched On Pop to break down this album and what it means for Afropop. Songs DiscussedBeyoncé, Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, Oumou Sangaré – MOOD 4 EVAOumou Sangaré – Diaraby NenBurna Boy – JA ARAFela Kuti – Water No Get EnemyFena, MDQ, Mayonde, Kagwe, Blinky Bill – PARTY NATIONListen to Blinky and Ivie’s East African playlist recommendations Leave us a voicemail about your favorite songs of summer: 385-626-6179 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
06/08/19·38m 45s

LCD Soundsystem and the Unbearable Sameness of Restaurant Playlists

Why is it that every hip restaurant plays the same music? When Eater restaurant editor Hillary Dixler Canavan kept hearing similar songs while dining for work assignments, she compiled a playlist of what she heard. It included songs by LCD Soundsystem, M83, Grimes, Biggie, Beck and the like. Her subsequent article about this music, “This Is Every Generically Cool Restaurant’s Playlist,” went viral. She’d captured the elusive sound of small plate dining. But what left her guessing was why this sound? And how did it reach so many restaurants in cities across the U.S.? She brought this question to Switched On Pop to understand why this 00s mostly indie sound was the ideal background for post-industrial chic establishments. Investigating the issue, she discovered a small bubble of music selectors who curate these lists for businesses. She spoke with Yvette Bailhache, a D.C. based music selector for restaurants and bars about how these lists are made. And she asked Jonathan Shecter, founder of the Las Vegas based background music service Playback Prodigy, about what makes an ideal background sound. What she discovered is surprising. The sounds in the background may dictate more of our foreground than you’d expect. Music DiscussedLCD Soundsystem - I Can ChangeM83 - Midnight City Grimes - GenesisIce Cube - It Was A Good DayWu-Tang Clean - CREAMThis Will Destroy You - KitchenListen to Hillary’s Every Restaurant Playlist and for more stories and news on food, subscribe to Eater's podcast Upsell Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/07/19·35m 54s

The $50M Beat Marketplace That Broke the Billboard

Lil Nas X licensed the beat for “Old Town Road” from an e-commerce platform. He originally bought a non-exclusive copy of the backing track for just $29.99 from a 19 year old Dutch record producer called YoungKio. And he’s not the first hitmaker to do so. Desiigner, Bryson Tiller and Queen Naija have all made hit songs from internet beats. These beats are big business. The arguable market leader, BeatStars, has paid its producers over $50M since its inception in 2008. The platform allows producers to market their beats to MCs and singers, boasting 340,000 active sellers and 1.5M tracks. BeatStars CEO Abe Batshon originally created the company to connect artists who may not live in the music industry hubs in L.A., N.Y., Nashville and Atlanta. His global ambitions were realized—producers on the platform come from all over the world. They release a steady stream of new music, marketing their original and sound-a-like beats to aspiring and emerging artists everywhere turning into ad music, Instagram stories and even Billboard Hot 100 hits. While BeatStars increases access to music, could this commoditization of music devalue the creative process? We speak with Abe as well as producers on the platform—songwriter Breana Marin and producer Dansonn—to understand how online beat selling is effecting the sound of pop music. Music Discussed:Lil Nas X - Old Town RoadBryson Tiller - Don’tYBN Nahmir - Rubbin off the PaintDesiigner - Panda’Queen Naija - MedicineCERTIBEATS - MojoBEATDEMONS - NohoBrytiago ft Bad Bunny - NETFLIXXXBreana Marin’s BeatStars pageDansonn’s BeatStars pageListen to “Bouncing On The Band Stand” by Marian Hill’s Jeremy Loyd (Clear Eyes) and Charlie (Charlatan). You can even license it for $29.99 for your own production. Vote for Switched On Pop in this year's People's Choice Podcast Awards! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
23/07/19·30m 38s

Shawn Mendes and the Rhythm of Rhyme

Shawn Mendes’ hit song “If I Can’t Have You” is so ridiculously catchy that Charlie had it stuck in his head after the first chorus. How is that possible?! Declamation, or the way that text is set to music, is a big part of the song’s appeal—every word that Mendes sings is perfectly in rhythm. In this episode we use Mendes’ latest track to explore creative declamation throughout history. How do artists from Whitney Houston to Queen to Taylor Swift keep finding new ways to sing the word “somebody”? Why did the composer Georg Friedrich Handel get in trouble for a bit of awkward text setting in one of the most famous pieces of Baroque music? And, does Beyoncé even know how to pronounce “sandcastles”? Finally, Mendes’ hit leads us to ask: is “incorrect” declamation is something to celebrate, or criticize? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/07/19·33m 49s

Space, The Final Frontier: Madonna, Stephen Puth and Street Studios

Find out how music creates a feeling of space in this three part episode. First, we may not realize it when we listen to Madonna's new record, but the location of her music is essential. In exploring her catalogue we hear the sound of different eras by just the space evoked in a song. Second, the same is true for Stephen Puth who uses spacial effects for brilliant creative purposes on his song "Look Away." When music is recorded in a studio with perfect acoustics, engineers manipulate that audio to place it in a 3D virtual space using reverb, delay, volume, panning and filters. Each of those effects changes our relationship to the music, and in Steven's case, the lyric. Finally, when we get outside the studio, like with Found Sound Nation and Make Music Day's “Street Studios”, music can echo the geography it is made in. Take this wild journey with us and truly expand your listening.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/07/19·59m 28s

What BTS's "Boy With Love" ft. Halsey Can Teach Us About K-pop

How should we listen to K-pop? This music has become a global phenomenon, charting on the Billboard Hot 100, taking over social media feeds, and touring the world. In particular, the group BTS has captured the ears of millions, building an Army of fans along the way. As uninitiated listeners, the language and culture barrier left us uncertain about how to approach listening to, let alone breaking down their music. So we sought out the support of Dr, Suk-Young Kim, Professor of Critical Studies and the Director of the Center for Performance Studies at UCLA, and KCON's Vanessa Augsbach. Dr. Kim's research on K-pop helps to expand our ears and understand the genre's history and aesthetics, while Augsbach helps us better appreciate the fandom. Applying their insights, we listen to "Boy With Luv" as a first foray into the wonders of K-pop. Read Dr. Kim's book K-pop Live: Fans Idols, and Multimedia Performance, Watch Vox's Netflix series Explained on the history of K-pop Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/07/19·40m 53s

"Prince Ali" and Why We're All Music Theorists

Fans are not happy with Will Smith's update of the classic Disney song "Prince Ali" in the live-action Aladdin. Their complaint? The new "Prince Ali" is slow, sluggish, and dull. Indeed, the Smith version is 8 BPM (beats per minute) slower than Robin Williams's 1992 original—a subtle musical detail. We dig into the properties of tempo and key to understand why people have such a visceral reaction to a relatively small change and consider whether it suggests that we—meaning all of us humans, from musicians to amateurs—are more musically literate than we think. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/06/19·30m 15s

Why Does Every Intro Sound Like It's Underwater? (Live)

Ever notice that wobbly, drunken and underwater sound common in so many contemporary pop songs? In an era of pristine recording quality, music producers are referencing old and impure technologies to add character to their recordings. Digital cassette hiss, tape wobble, and vinyl crackle are intentionally added to productions as a facsimile of "authentic" recording technology. Why the sudden nostalgia? Where does this underwater sound come from? What does it mean? How is it made? Find out on a live episode of Switched On Pop, recorded at Recode's annual Code conference with guest host Estelle Caswell, creator of Vox's Earworm video series. Listen to Estelle's Spotify playlist of underwater intros.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/06/19·26m 35s

The Man Behind the Rocketman with Giles Martin

Rocketman is a spectacle the size of Elton John, four films in one. It contains a biopic, jukebox musical, addiction recovery story and a romance between friends. The soundtrack ties the story together by taking historical liberties to tell a fantastical story about one of the best living songwriters. Charlie is joined by Vox’s film critic, Alissa Wilkinson to breakdown the film and deconstruct how its melodic themes create an emotional arc. He also speaks with Giles Martin (son of 5th Beatle George Martin) who music directed the film and soundtrack about how he assembled an entire life’s work into a singular narrative. Songs Discussed Taron Egerton - RocketmanQueen - Bohemian RhapsodyTaron Egerton, Jamie Bell - Goodbye Yellow Brick RoadKit Connor & Gemma Jones & Bryce Dallas Howard & Steven Mackintosh - I Want LoveTaron Egerton - Crocodile RockTaron Egerton - Your SongTaron Egerton - Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest WordMozart - Requiem Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/06/19·52m 51s

The Greatest Pop Stories Never Told (with Jessica Hopper)

On the KRCW series Lost Notes, Jessica Hopper plumbs pop music history for the most important stories never told. She brings us a bevy of lost gems, from Fanny, an all-female quartet of rockers that was one of David Bowie's favorite bands, to the Freeze a late-70s punk outfit now coming to terms with the offensive lyrics of their youth. Tune in to discover another side of pop, one that's rarely been heard.  Songs Discussed:Fanny - Charity Ball (Live Version)Fanny - Ain't that PeculiarThe Freeze - I Hate TouristsCat Power - The Greatest Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/06/19·42m 50s

Should You Care About Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber?

A pop star collaboration is a foolproof way to grab the attention of two audiences at once. But do more collaborators actually make a better song? Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber put this question to the test in their new song "I Don't Care." The track takes us inside the head of an antisocial party hopper, who'd rather be back home with his lover. Nate and Charlie investigate how the songwriters works that message into their music and speak with Ross Golan about Ed Sheeran's songwriting brilliance. Songs Discussed • Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber - I Don't Care • Ed Sheeran – Shape of You • Justin Bieber – Love Yourself • Kygo ft. Ella Henderson – Here For You • Maroon 5 – Don’t Wanna Know Check out And The Writer Is… With Ross Golan: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/05/19·53m 29s

The Smooth Sound of NPR Morning News

What do Bach and smooth jazz have in common? Both score the unmistakable theme song for NPR's flagship show Morning Edition, listened to by millions across the country every day since 1979. This is undeniably pop music, a daily soundtrack to the lives of many. So why does it sound the way it does? And why, after forty years, why does NPR want to change it? Featuring: BJ Leiderman - Morning Edition  Chuck Mangione - Feels So Good Herbie Hancock - Chameleon George Benson - Breezin' Kenny G - Songbird  Don Voegeli/Wycliffe Gordon - All Things Considered Take 6 - All Things Considered Phish - All Things Reconsidered Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/05/19·41m 25s

Is There An Indie Rock Conspiracy? (Featuring Joywave)

Many people write us with musical maladies and conspiracies. A recent one caught our attention. Daniel Armbruster, lead vocalist of indie band Joywave, has been hearing the same melody in tracks across the Alternative Songs charts. He believes that this hook could be the secret to securing a spot on the Billboard 100. Nate and Charlie investigate this issue, traveling from the contemporary charts all the way back to a fundamental musical scale. The stakes are high: is it possible to hack your way into a hit alt-rock song? Songs Discussed Young The Giant - SuperpositionCold War Kids - FirstSir Sly - &RunJoywave, KOPPS - TonguesMaroon 5 - Moves Like JaggerLady Gaga - Bad Romance AJR - Burn the House DownTwenty One Pilots - ChlorineThe Black Keys - Lo/HiBillie Eilish - Bury A FriendCatfish and the Bottlemen - LongshotCage The Elephant - Ready To Let GoPanic! At The Disco - High HopesSHAED - TrampolineOliver Tree - HurtThe Lumineers - Ho Hey Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/05/19·31m 15s

Lizzo And The End of Genre (with Sam Harris of X Ambassadors)

On her new album, Cuz I Love You, Lizzo shows off her genre bending musicality. We speak with X Ambassadors lead singer, Sam Harris, who helped co-write three songs on the album, including its eponymous track. We discuss how Lizzo's songs glide across sixties soul, seventies rock rock, eighties new wave, and nineties hip-hop. But we find that her music is much more than a history lesson in genre. Lizzo's writes vulnerable and courageous lyrics about self love, body positivity, female empowerment, and black identity. Rather than craft a singular sound for her album, Lizzo utilizes the genre that best fits the message of any given song. Her subversion of genre to the mood of her lyric matches changes in music consumption. According to Chartmetric, more people than ever are listening across genres to context based playlists. Does this mean genre no longer matters? Nate and Charlie try to find out with the help of Lizzo's genre busting music. Songs DiscussedLizzo - Better In ColorLizzo - Cuz I Love YouLizzo - JuiceLizzo - TempoMissy Elliott - Get Ur Freak OnLizzo - JeromeRadiohead - CreepLed Zeppelin - Royal OrleansPrince - When Doves CryLizzo - Exactly How I Feel (ft. Gucci Mane)Aretha Franklin - RespectAretha Franklin - Say A Little PrayerAretha Franklin - Chain Of FoolsAretha Franklin - I Knew You Were WaitingEurythmics ft. Aretha Franklin - Sisters Are Doin' It For ThemselvesListen to our Lizzo playlist that pairs each song on her new album with a song from the past. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/05/19·51m 16s

Taylor Swift Causes a PANIC!

When a listener asked us about the "sorcery" behind Taylor Swift's new song "ME!" we knew we had to investigate. And because the track features Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco, we couldn't resist digging into their concurrent hit "High Hopes." Along the way we cover baby talk, dreamy augmented chords, drumlines, and songs with exclamation points in their titles — all to explain why you can't get these two out of your head. Featuring: Taylor Swift featuring Brendon Urie - ME! Swift - Shake it Off Swift - The Way I Loved You Gustav Mahler - Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder! Shania Twain - Up! Panic! At the Disco - High Hopes Western Carolina University Drumline - High Hopes Check out two great pieces on "High Hopes," one by Top 40 Theory and the other by Rolling Stone article citing Flypaper's Dean Olivet.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/04/19·41m 35s

Sounds Like Teen Spirit (with Elle Fanning)

Pop is inseparable from reality TV singing competitions. From Eurovision to American Idol, scores of stars got their start in singing competitions. We’ve long overlooked this influence on pop, but were inspired to look into the phenomenon by the release of Teen Spirit, a pop-musical film about a fictional singing competition . What is the history of these shows? Who got their big break on one? Is there a singing show musical aesthetic? We hit the books and records to find out, and the answers might surprise. Finally we speak with Elle Fanning, who plays contestant Violet in the film, about what it takes to train to be a singer primed for national fame. Songs DiscussedElle Fanning - Dancing On My OwnFrank Sinatra with The Hoboken Four on the Major Bowes Amateur HourGladys Knight on the Original Amateur HourAbba - WaterlooCeline Dion - Ne Partez Pas Moi Alanis Morisette on Star Search Girls Tyme with Beyoncé on Star SearchKelly Clarkson - A Moment Like ThisWhitney Houston - I Have NothingNina Simone - Feeling GoodJanis Joplin - Piece of My HeartSusan Boyle - I Dreamed A DreamElle Fanning - Don't Kill My Vibe (originally by Sigrid)Recommended listeningMavis Staples - AnytimeAnderson Paak - VenturaThe Beths - Future Me Hates MeMax, Quinn XCII - Love Me LessKhalid, John Mayer - Outta My Head* Correction: Though non-European countries do compete in Eurovision, Canada has not competed in the contest. Celine Dion represented Switzerland in her performance of "Ne Partez Pas Moi Celine" in 1988. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
23/04/19·55m 58s

Lil Nas X: Country at the Crossroads

Lil Nas X currently holds the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his surprise hit “Old Town Road.” But though the song is dripping with country twang, you won’t find it anywhere on the country charts. That’s because Billboard removed it, on the grounds of not having enough “musical elements” of country—a move that in turn left many wondering if the vanishing had something to do with Lil Nas X, a black artist, venturing into a field dominated by white musicians. We dig deep into the history and musical matter of “Old Town Road,” then pit it against other country hits to test its deep fried bonafides. Songs DiscussedLil Nas X - Old Town RoadNine Inch Nails - 34 Ghosts IVBeba Rexa - Mean to Be (feat. Florida Georgia Line)Kelsea Ballerini - Miss You MoreSam Hunt - Speakers / Ghetto Cowboy - Bone Thugz N' HarmonyFilmore - Love That About You Lil Nas X - Old Town Road (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus) Mason Ramsey - Walmart Yodeling KidHank Williams - Love Sick BluesEmmett Miller & His Georgia Crackers - Lock Sick Blues  Other LinksTanya Texas Tucker's list of Black artists and their collaborations with country starsJezebel interview with Bri Malandro, originator of the "Yee Haw Agenda" Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/04/19·42m 39s