Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia

Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia

By Slate Podcasts

What makes a song a smash? Talent? Luck? Timing? All that—and more. Chris Molanphy, pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts and shaped your memories forever.

Episodes

Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture Edition

A special Hit Parade announcement: Like many media organizations at the moment, Slate is getting hit pretty hard by what's going on with the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue doing our work, providing you with all our great podcasts, news and reporting, and we simply cannot do that without your support. So we're asking you to sign up for Slate Plus, our membership program. It's just $35 for the first year, and it goes a long way to supporting us in this crucial moment. As part of this effort, we're going to be making Full Hit Parade episodes available to Slate Plus members only. To listen to the episode in full, and episodes in future months, you'll need to become a Slate Plus member. This is the best way to support our show and our work, and we hope you will pitch in if you can. Your membership will also give access to everything on Slate.com, you'll get ad-free versions of this and other shows, and you'll get bonus segments and bonus episodes of other Slate podcasts. Plus, once you become a member, you can sign up to do trivia with Chris Molanphy on Hit Parade—“The Bridge” episodes. Please sign up today at slate.com/hitparadeplus. We thank you for your support. On this preview episode: Outkast is inarguably one of the most important acts in hip hop and pop music history, but their impressive chart runs, and the brand of Atlanta hip hop they championed, was far from inevitable. This is the story of Outkast and how they established Atlanta as a major center of hip hop culture in the United States while racking up some of the most unexpected hits in the history of popular music. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
29/05/207m 28s

The Bridge: Piano Man, Everyman

A special Hit Parade announcement: Like many media organizations at the moment, Slate is getting hit pretty hard by what's going on with the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue doing our work, providing you with all our great podcasts, news and reporting, and we simply cannot do that without your support. So we're asking you to sign up for Slate Plus, our membership program. It's just $35 for the first year, and it goes a long way to supporting us in this crucial moment. As part of this effort, we're going to be making Hit Parade episodes available to Slate Plus members only., including the one previewed here. To listen to it in fuyou'll need to become a Slate Plus member. This is the best way to support our show and our work, and we hope you will pitch in if you can. Your membership will also give access to everything on Slate.com, you'll get ad-free versions of this and other shows, and you'll get bonus segments and bonus episodes of other Slate podcasts. Plus, once you become a member, you can sign up to do trivia with Chris Molanphy on Hit Parade—“The Bridge” episodes.  Please sign up today at slate.com/hitparadeplus. We thank you for your support. In this Bridge episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Julian Velard, musician and inspiration for Chris’s most recent full-length episode, about hitmaker Billy Joel. As a Jewish, New York–based piano player, Julian admits that Joel remains the most relevant touchpoint in his career to this day—and that he’s fought an existential battle with the song “Piano Man.” Chris and Julian wonder how a modern pop landscape might reward (or litigate) Joel’s tendency toward pastiche, and they discuss his ultimate legacy—to critics, to lovers, to haters and other piano men.  Next, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at the Southward journey of rap music in the late ’90s and early ’00s, spurred by chart-topping Atlanta rappers OutKast.  Podcast production by Asha Saluja.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
15/05/203m 51s

Still Billy Joel to Me Edition

A special Hit Parade announcement: Like many media organizations at the moment, Slate is getting hit pretty hard by what's going on with the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue doing our work, providing you with all our great podcasts, news and reporting, and we simply cannot do that without your support. So we're asking you to sign up for Slate Plus, our membership program. It's just $35 for the first year, and it goes a long way to supporting us in this crucial moment. As part of this effort, we're going to be making Full Hit Parade episodes available to Slate Plus members only. To listen to the episode in full, and episodes in future months, you'll need to become a Slate Plus member. This is the best way to support our show and our work, and we hope you will pitch in if you can. Your membership will also give access to everything on Slate.com, you'll get ad-free versions of this and other shows, and you'll get bonus segments and bonus episodes of other Slate podcasts. Plus, once you become a member, you can sign up to do trivia with Chris Molanphy on Hit Parade—“The Bridge” episodes. Please sign up today at slate.com/hitparadeplus. We thank you for your support. On this preview episode of the show: Billy Joel’s first Top 40 hit, way back in 1974, was “Piano Man,” and the nickname stuck. But for a guy who became famous sitting behind 88 keys, few of his biggest hits are really piano songs. In fact, on all three of his No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, keyboards are not the primary instrument. This is the story of Billy Joel's hits, and the pastiches he crafted to stay on top of the charts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
30/04/207m 9s

The Bridge: Hits Don’t Lie

A special Hit Parade announcement: Like many media organizations at the moment, Slate is getting hit pretty hard by what's going on with the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue doing our work, providing you with all our great podcasts, news and reporting, and we simply cannot do that without your support. So we're asking you to sign up for Slate Plus, our membership program. It's just $35 for the first year, and it goes a long way to supporting us in this crucial moment. As part of this effort, we're going to be making Hit Parade episodes available to Slate Plus members only. This will begin with the full-length episode coming on April 30. To listen to that episode in full, and episodes in future months, you'll need to become a Slate Plus member. This is the best way to support our show and our work, and we hope you will pitch in if you can. Your membership will also give access to everything on Slate.com, you'll get ad-free versions of this and other shows, and you'll get bonus segments and bonus episodes of other Slate podcasts. Plus, once you become a member, you can sign up to do trivia with Chris Molanphy on Hit Parade—“The Bridge” episodes. Please sign up today at slate.com/hitparadeplus. We thank you for your support. In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, originally aired on Facebook as part of Slate Live’s Q-Tip Mondays series. host Chris Molanphy is joined by Eduardo Cepeda, music editor at Remezcla. They discuss the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade about the history of Latin pop on the Billboard charts. Eduardo tells Chris about balancing his fandoms for mainstream American music with his family’s Spanish-language music in his younger years, and offers a critical lens to the Anglophone crossover attempts of the stars of the turn-of-the-millennium Latin pop boomita. Then Eduardo gives Chris a brief history of reggaeton, and shares his current artists to watch within the genre.  Next, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at the career of piano man and master of pastiche Billy Joel. Podcast production by Asha Saluja.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
17/04/2028m 46s

La Vida Loca Edición

Hit Parade takes you back to the turn of the millennium when, for a couple of years, it seemed like a Latin pop star was topping Billboard’ Hot 100 every few weeks: Ricky Martin. Jennifer Lopez. Enrique Iglesias. Marc Anthony. Carlos Santana. Shakira. This wave of Latin crossover was hard-fought and a long time coming—from “La Bamba” to “Macarena,” Spanish-language hits in the 20th century had been treated like novelties by record buyers and radio programmers. The Latin boom of 1999 changed all that—but did it go far enough? How did we get from the slick Spanglish of “Livin’ la Vida Loca” to the Spanish-first success of “Despacito” and “Mi Gente”? And how did Ritchie Valens and João Gilberto prepare America for J.Lo and Shakira triumphing at the Super Bowl? Podcast production by Justin D. Wright. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
31/03/201h 37m

The Bridge: Wesley on Whitney

In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Wesley Morris, Pulitzer Prize–winning critic, New York Times critic-at-large, and co-host of Still Processing. They discuss the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade about the chart legacy of Whitney Houston, which was inspired in part by Wesley and his co-host Jenna Wortham’s analysis in Still Processing of Houston’s life, identity, and artistry. Wesley talks about his first memory of seeing Whitney on TV, his respect for the versatility of her voice, and his commiseration with her sometimes-cold reception by Black fans.  Next, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at Latin pop crossover on the American charts.  While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus members. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com. Podcast production by Asha Saluja.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
13/03/2029m 17s

I'm Your Whitney Tonight Edition

Eight years after her passing—and 35 years after the release of her debut album—Whitney Houston is about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Predictably, some rock fans have carped that Houston doesn’t belong in the Hall. But they are not the only ones who, historically, have complained about Houston’s bona fides. In the ’80s, at the apex of her success, black fans complained that Houston was courting white pop fans too eagerly, and forgetting her roots in gospel and R&B. On the charts, by contrast, Whitney Houston’s achievements are indisputable. But they also might be underrated. Houston’s chart records offer a window into exactly how she crossed over…and whether she deserved the backlash. In this episode, Chris Molanphy walks step by step through Whitney’s storied chart records—including a couple that have gone unheralded—that help explain why she was a seminal, singular figure among black female crossover stars, from Aretha and Diana to Beyoncé. Podcast production by Justin D. Wright. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
28/02/201h 30m

The Bridge: Living in an Amish Paradise

In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Nathan Rabin, podcaster and writer of two books about “Weird Al” Yankovic. They discuss the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade, a history of novelty songs on the Billboard charts culminating with the oeuvre of the most successful parody musician ever. Nathan shares the history of his Al fandom and eventual book-length collaboration, and Chris and Nathan theorize about the secrets of Al’s success. (Want to see Nathan Rabin talk about Weird Al in person? Join him in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 22, 2020, at 3:30 p.m. PST at Dynasty Typewriter—tickets here.) Next, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at the record-breaking career of the late Whitney Houston—now a Rock Hall inductee. While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus members. If you are a member—or once you become a member—enter as a contestant here. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com. Podcast production by Asha Saluja.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
14/02/2030m 24s

The White and Nerdy Edition

Sped-up voices. Wacky instruments. Songs about cavemen, bathtubs, bikinis and mothers-in-law. From the very birth of rock-and-roll, novelty songs were essential elements of the hit parade. Right through the ’70s—the age of streaking, CB radios, disco and King Tut—novelty songs could be chart-topping hits. But by the corporate ’80s, it was harder for goofballs to score round-the-clock hits on regimented radio playlists. Until one perm-headed, mustachioed, accordion-playing parodist who called himself “Weird” rebooted novelty hits for the new millennium. A video jokester before YouTube, he just might have ushered in the age of the meme. So join Hit Parade this month as we walk through the history of novelty hits on the charts—most especially if M.C. Escher is your favorite M.C. Podcast production by Justin D. Wright. Follow @cmolanphy on Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
31/01/201h 28m

The Bridge: Legacy of the Elusive Chanteuse

In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Rich Juzwiak, writer for Jezebel as well as Slate’s advice column How to Do It. The two discuss the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade, a breakdown of how Mariah Carey’s seasonal hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” finally hit No.1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, an improbable 25 years after its original release. Rich walks Chris through the history of Mariah fandom—both his own and her loyal “Lambs”—and how he appreciates her for her low moments as much as her pop peaks. Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at the history of novelty and comedy hits on the charts.  While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus members. If you are a member—or once you become a member—enter as a contestant here. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com. Podcast production by Asha Saluja.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
17/01/2031m 41s

Make My Wish Come True Edition

Music fans in 2019 are gobsmacked that the No. 1 song in America is not only a Christmas song but a 25-year-old recording: Mariah Carey’s holiday perennial “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Even more amazingly, it’s the first Christmas song to top Billboard’s Hot 100 in 61 years, since “The Chipmunk Song” in December 1958. This leads to so many “whys”: Why were there no Christmas No. 1s for six decades? Why didn’t ’60s, ’70s and ’80s holiday classics like “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” “Feliz Navidad” and “Last Christmas” become Hot 100 hits? Why did Carey’s classic not chart in 1994, when it was released—and why did it only start charting in the 2010s and seem to get more popular every year this decade? In this special holiday edition of Hit Parade we answer all of these questions, and explain how virtually everything had to change about the music business for Mariah’s Christmas chestnut to reach No. 1: from Billboard chart rules, to digital music technologies, to even the tragic passing of a fellow music diva. It all combined to give Carey her incredible 19th No. 1 on the Hot 100—just one chart-topper away from the Beatles. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
23/12/191h 14m

The Bridge: Queens Bey, Rih and Robyn Reign Different Kingdoms

In this mid-month mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by The Bridge producer Asha Saluja to discuss the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade, an exhaustive analysis of the top-charting singles of the 2010s. Chris tells Asha why Beyoncé, indisputably one of the decade’s most influential artists, didn’t make it into the episode. Then Chris and Asha talk about a few of their favorite singles of the decade--some made it onto the Billboard Hot 100, and others didn’t. Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will be a look at Christmas music’s record on the Hot 100--including a record that just might be broken this year if a beloved holiday tune by a certain chart-running pop diva hits No. 1. And finally, Chris corrects the record on some mistakes he’s made in Hit Parade this year. Anyone remember “meekrat”?  While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus members. If you are a member—or once you become a member—enter as a contestant here. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com. Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
13/12/1926m 58s

Rolling in God’s Royal Uptown Road Edition.

All decades of pop music swing between trends and fads—but the 2010s was swingier than most. From the maximalist EDM of the early ’10s to the downbeat hip-hop of the late ’10s, the pop pendulum oscillated more widely than you may remember. The same decade that gave us Adele’s stately balladry, Katy Perry’s electro-froth and Taylor Swift’s country-to-pop crossover also gave us the Weeknd’s bleary indie-R&B and Drake’s moody rap. And Bieber—so. Much. Bieber. With just weeks to go before the end of 2019, Hit Parade walks through the last decade of the Hot 100, year by year, and asks: What was that? Arguably, what drove pop in the ’10s wasn’t just the production sounds of dance music or hip-hop but the technologies we used to consume music, as the shift from downloads to streams changed the contours of chart success. And in the end, one multigenre queen navigated these shifts better than most, finding pop love in a hopeless place. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
27/11/191h 37m

The Bridge: Genre v. Generation, ’80s to ’10s

In this mid-month mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Ned Raggett, freelance music writer for All Music Guide and The Quietus and expert on the ’80s U.K. bands celebrated on the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade. Chris and Ned discuss what they call the “holy quartet” of British postpunk bands—The Cure, The Smiths, Depeche Mode and New Order—and Ned weighs in on the challenge of what to call this wave: Is it goth? mope-rock? Do these bands actually constitute a genre, or more of a generational cohort? Also, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a trivia question of his own. And finally, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will be a retrospective look at the 2010s.  While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus members. If you are a member—or once you become a member—enter as a contestant here. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com. Podcast production by Asha Saluja.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
15/11/1927m 6s

Lost and Lonely Edition

If you were an angsty American teenager in the 1980s—whether in real life, or in a John Hughes movie—the rock you loved probably came from the United Kingdom, complete with droning vocals, brooding lyrics, goth hair, and black nail polish. The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Joy Division/New Order, the Smiths: All these U.K. postpunk acts were hard-pressed to score American hits in the first half of the ’80s—the era of fun-loving New Romantic bands like Duran Duran. But to Gen X teens, Robert Smith, Siouxsie Sioux, and Morrissey were icons. By the end of the decade, however, these bands became American hitmakers, especially after Billboard launched the music bible’s first alternative rock chart. Depeche Mode sold out a California stadium. New Order dominated dancefloors. The Smiths’ Johnny Marr became a guitar god, Morrissey an MTV crush object. And finally, in 1989, the Cure—dark, doomy, and moody as ever—were challenging Janet Jackson for the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Just in time for Halloween, Hit Parade tells the story of how spooky, spidery, U.K. mope-rock became chart-conquering pop. Podcast production by Justin D. Wright. Hosted by Chris Molanphy Follow @cmolanphy on Twitter / https://www.twitter.com/cmolanphy  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
31/10/191h 25m

The Bridge: Rain Sounds and Moody Goths

In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Aisha Harris, culture editor for The New York Times’ Opinion section. Aisha and Chris discuss the Janet Jackson album Rhythm Nation 1814, the topic of the  most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade. Aisha tells Chris about her early Jackson fandom, picks her all-time favorite Janet songs, and offers her opinion on the relevancy and influence of Janet’s sound today. Plus, Chris gives an inside scoop on the song template that Jackson’s longtime producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, used to generate multiple chart-topping hits. Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to stump Chris with a trivia question of his own. While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus members. If you are a member—or once you become a member—enter as a contestant here. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com. Podcast production by Asha Saluja.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/10/1927m 27s

State of the World Edition

In the mid-1980s, Janet Jackson broke away from her world-famous, hit-making family and, with her Control album, rebooted both her career and pop style in the New Jack Swing era. The challenge was following it up—and Jackson and her producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, didn’t make it easy on themselves. In 1989, they produced an ambitious album with a portentous title: Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. But what could have been Control, Part 2 instead was a visionary LP that reinvented the socially conscious album from the era of Marvin Gaye for the ’90s, and envisioned what pop would eventually sound like in the 21st century. Rhythm Nation was a smash, generating more hits—and bigger hits—than any album in history. In fact, if Jackson and her label hadn’t pulled their punches with one final radio single, she could have set an all-time Billboard chart record that would have overshadowed any of the Jackson family’s historic achievements. Podcast production by Chris Berube. HostChris Molanphy Follow @cmolanphy on Twitter / https://www.twitter.com/cmolanphy  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
27/09/191h 15m

The Bridge: Ladies of the Canyon and the Rhythm Nation

In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Asha Saluja, operations manager for Slate Podcasts and new producer of these monthly mini-episodes. Asha tells Chris about an episode of Hit Parade about a certain pop queen–turned–EDM goddess that bridged two seemingly unrelated parts of her personal music history. Chris gives Asha the scoop on the anecdote from the last full-length Hit Parade episode about the TV appearance responsible for keeping Joni Mitchell away from Woodstock. Asha shares a letter from a listener with some firsthand perspective on the music of the late 1960’s. Plus, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a trivia question of his own. While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus members. If you are a member—or once you become a member—enter as a contestant here. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com. Podcast production by Asha Saluja with help from Danielle Hewitt.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
13/09/1925m 55s

We Are Stardust, We Are Gold-Certified

Are you tired of hearing how awe-inspiring the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was 50 years ago for 400,000 lucky hippies in Bethel, New York? Imagine how the people of 1969 felt—specifically the millions who couldn’t go. Yet, in the age before YouTube and social media, the rest of America did catch Woodstock fever—weeks, months, even a year or more later—and they made stars out of many of the performers. By 1970, not only was the Woodstock movie dominating the box office; the soundtrack album and a constellation of Woodstock stars were crushing the Billboard charts. This month’s Hit Parade offers a new take on Woodstock: To understand its legacy, you have to look at the charts long after August 1969. Chris Molanphy counts down 10 acts—some of them music legends, some of them short-lived hitmakers—who were materially boosted by the festival: from a guy hanging out backstage who got shoved onstage by desperate show organizers; to the band who loathed the whole experience yet saw their albums reach new chart heights; to the young man who arrived with no discography but kicked off one of the longest hitmaking careers in rock history. Podcast production by Chau Tu. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
30/08/191h 17m

The Bridge: Nostalgic for Number Ones

In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Tom Breihan, senior editor at Stereogum and writer of their long-term blog project “The Number Ones,” a chronological review of every song that’s hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Tom gives Chris his reviews of the three Lennon-McCartney hits Chris discussed in the last full-length Hit Parade episode. Plus, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a trivia question of her own. While this episode is available to all listeners, only Slate Plus members are allowed to be on the show. Once you become a member, you can enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com. Podcast production by Asha Saluja.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
16/08/1926m 2s

Without The Beatles

This month, Hit Parade explores the legacy of songs by The Beatles topping the charts...without The Beatles. This is the story of how a discarded Beatles song, a superstar vanity cover, and a bizarre disco medley managed to top the charts with Beatles songwriting credits, but without the fab four.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
26/07/191h 11m

The Bridge: Farewell, Lilith Fan

How much do you know about the women rockers who dominated the '90s? Find out in the latest episode of Hit Parade: The Bridge. In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, Host Chris Molanphy is joined by T. J. Raphael, senior producer of the Slate Podcast Network. Together, they quiz one listener contestant with some music trivia. The player also has the opportunity to turn the tables: They get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one of their own trivia questions. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member.  Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.   Podcast production by T. J. Raphael Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
19/07/1927m 28s

The Lullaby of Broadway Edition

Musical theater is one of America’s greatest cultural products—and in the mid–20th century, it also dominated the Billboard charts, from My Fair Lady to West Side Story. But the rise of rock and roll in the ’60s sidelined showtunes on the radio. And even when Broadway tried to rock—from Hair to Jesus Christ Superstar—a new generation grew wary of characters breaking into song (unless they were animated mermaids, teapots or lions). And yet, in the 21st century, Broadway music has staged a cultural comeback: taking over our movie screens, making shows out of jukebox hits, and raising a new generation to believe they can rap like Hamilton and Lafayette. In this Tonys month, Hit Parade dances down the Great White Way to chronicle the tangled history of the Broadway musical on the pop charts.    Email: hitparade@slate.com    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
28/06/191h 18m

The Bridge: The "Give My Regards" Edition

Think you know music? Hit Parade, the music history podcast from Slate, is back with a new episode of The Bridge. In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, Host Chris Molanphy is joined by T. J. Raphael, senior producer of the Slate Podcast Network. Together, they quiz one listener contestant with some music trivia. The player also has the opportunity to turn the tables: They get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one of their own trivia questions. Chris is also joined by Elizabeth Craft, an assistant professor of musicology at the University of Utah. Her research focuses on musical theater from the early 20th century to the present; she’s published on the musicals of Lin-Manuel Miranda, including a recent article on the politics and political reception of Hamilton, and she’s currently working on a book on Broadway legend George M. Cohan. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
14/06/1926m 11s

The Invisible Miracle Sledgehammer Edition

When a band member leaves to go solo, usually it means the band’s best days are over. That’s what everybody thought when Peter Gabriel left Genesis in the ’70s. Except not only did the band survive—fronted by drummer-turned-singer Phil Collins, they got bigger. Then Collins went solo…except he didn’t ditch Genesis. In fact, his success made them bigger—one of the definitive pop bands of the 1980s, as Collins’s monstrous drum sound took over pop music. By mid-decade, current and former members of Genesis—even side projects from its guitarists—were all competing head-to-head on the Billboard charts. On Hit Parade, we explore the knotty family tree of Genesis, the unlikeliest group ever to become a Hot 100 juggernaut. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
31/05/191h 24m

The Bridge: Monster Drums Edition

Think you know music? Hit Parade, the music history podcast from Slate, is back with a new episode of The Bridge. In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, Host Chris Molanphy is joined by Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding of the podcast Switched on Pop. Together, they quiz one listener contestant with some music trivia. The player also has the opportunity to turn the tables: They get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one of their own trivia questions. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
17/05/1925m 22s

The Posthumous Hits Edition, Live from Seattle

Spin̈al Tap was right: Death sells. When musical icons die, their songs and albums climb the charts all over again—sometimes, a legendary artist even scores his or her only No. 1 hit. In this very special episode recorded live from the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Hit Parade pours one out for the legends who topped the charts from beyond the grave. Chris is joined by some of America’s top music writers to discuss the unusual circumstances that brought everyone from Otis Redding to Janis Joplin, John Lennon to Kurt Cobain, Biggie Smalls to Prince to the top of the charts after their untimely passings.  Email: hitparade@slate.com    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
26/04/191h 30m

Coming Soon: Hit Parade, Live in Seattle!

Join Chris Molanphy for an evening of stories and trivia, at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle Washington, Saturday, April 13th, 2019. Tickets are going fast at Slate.com/LIVE Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
04/04/1955s

The Everybody Say YEAH! Edition

When you think of Stevie Wonder’s legendary career, what chart-toppers come to mind? “Superstition,” right? Maybe “I Wish”? Okay, but what about the start of his career, on the Motown of the ’60s? You may not know that Wonder had only one Hot 100 No. 1 in his first decade—as “Little” Stevie Wonder—and it was truly exceptional, as in bizarre: a semi-improvised live recording of a “12 Year-Old Genius” refusing to leave a Chicago stage and say goodnight. Here’s the story of “Fingertips, Part 2,” and the years that launched a true pop icon. Wonder’s imperial run of classic, chart-topping, Grammy-dominating ’70s albums had their seeds in the joyous virtuosity, and fierce independence, on display in his very first hit. Email: hitparade@slate.com   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
29/03/191h 7m

The Bridge: Cover Queens and The Boy Wonder

Host Chris Molanphy reflects on the previous full length episode of the show, and invites one Slate Plus member to play some music trivia related to an upcoming episode. This month, Molanphy is joined at the mic by T. J. Raphael, senior producer of the Slate Podcast Network. Together, they discuss some of the best cover songs of all time from the likes of Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, and more. After a break, Molanphy is joined by one listener for some music trivia related to the next full-length episode of Hit Parade, which is all about Stevie Wonder. How does it all work? The contestant is asked three trivia questions, and the player also has the opportunity to turn the tables—they get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one trivia question of their own. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.   Podcast production by T. J. Raphael  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
15/03/1921m 57s

The Bad Moon on the Rise Edition

In just a couple of years, Creedence Clearwater Revival generated one of the most amazing runs of hits in American pop history: from “Proud Mary” to “Green River,” “Bad Moon Rising” to “Travelin’ Band.” Reportedly, they even outsold the Beatles in America in 1969. But for all their success with those John Fogerty–penned classics, CCR never held the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100. All of those hits were No. 2s: a dubious Billboard chart record they hold to this day, for most No. 2s without a No. 1. True, it was the late ’60s, and CCR had the bad luck to be competing with such chart titans as Paul Simon and Sly Stone…but sometimes they were held back by No. 1 songs that are barely remembered today. In this episode of Hit Parade, we break down the sequence of events that relegated CCR—a future first-ballot Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band—to the charts’ permanent runner-up slot. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
28/02/191h 2m

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

Hit Parade, the music history podcast from Slate, is back with a new episode of The Bridge. In this monthly mini-episode, Host Chris Molanphy reflects on the previous full length episode of the show, and invites one Slate Plus member to play some music trivia related to an upcoming episode. This month, Molanphy is joined at the mic by T. J. Raphael, senior producer of the Slate Podcast Network. Together, they discuss the sexual assault allegations facing artist R. Kelly, and whether the #MeToo movement will finally change the music industry. After a break, Molanphy is joined by one listener for some music trivia related to the next full-length episode of Hit Parade, which is all about Creedence Clearwater Revival. How does it all work? The contestant is asked three trivia questions, and the player also has the opportunity to turn the tables—they get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one trivia question of their own. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.  Podcast production by Danielle Hewitt. Take the Slate podcast survey here.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
15/02/1924m 1s

The Gaga is Born Edition

A Star Is Born, the movie Hollywood can’t stop remaking, is a fairy-tale about the American dream factory. But it has also, always, been a reflection of the woman in the lead role—and the latest version stars a woman who has been playing a role for more than a decade: Stefani Germanotta, a.k.a. Lady Gaga. When Gaga scored her first No. 1 hit, “Just Dance,” 10 years ago this month, critics thought her fame might be short-lived. But Gaga had a lot to say about The Fame, and within a year she had shifted the sound of the Top 40 in her electro-pop direction. And then, in the mid-2010s, she shifted her own sound, belting out pop standards for everyone from Tony Bennett to Julie Andrews. What happens if this shape-shifter pivots from Grammys to Oscars? And what will that say about the themes of A Star Is Born: artifice, authenticity and agency? This episode is brought to you by Slack, the collaboration hub for work. Learn more at Slack.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
25/01/191h 8m

Music Trivia: Grammys and Gaga Edition

Think you know music? Hit Parade, the music history podcast from Slate, is back with a new episode of The Bridge. In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, Host Chris Molanphy reflects on the previous full length episode of the show, and invites one Slate Plus member onto the show to play some music trivia related to the upcoming episode. How does it all work? Contestants are asked three trivia questions, and the player also has the opportunity to turn the tables—they get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one trivia question of their own. This month, Molanphy is joined at the mic by T. J. Raphael, senior producer of the Slate Podcast Network. Together, they reveal which artist won the coveted spot of this year’s U.K. Christmas No. 1, look ahead to the 2019 Grammy Awards, and discuss the next full length episode of Hit Parade, which is all about the rise of Lady Gaga. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.   Podcast production by T. J. Raphael.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
18/01/1922m 55s

The Christmas is All Around Edition

In the UK, the No. 1 song the week of Christmas is a big deal. The media breathlessly covers the contest, and there are even wagers placed on what song will reach the top of the charts as pop stars and record labels jockey for position. While there are patterns to the kinds of songs that tend to do well in this perennial sweepstakes, often the winner is a fluke: Everything from Queen to the Flying Pickets to Bob the Builder has taken the crown. It was even parodied in the smash British Christmas comedy film Love, Actually—and one year in the late aughts, the British public rebelled en masse against a music-TV impresario, making a statement with the unlikeliest Christmas topper ever. But in an age when songs sell less than they stream, and hits tend to snowball, will the sun set on the fluky British Christmas No. 1 empire?  Email: hitparade@slate.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
21/12/181h 12m

Music Trivia: The Christmas Music Edition

Think you know music? Quiz yourself with the latest episode of Hit Parade: The Bridge. This month, Host Chris Molanphy is joined by Jessica Goldstein, the culture editor at ThinkProgress and a journalist whose work has appeared in Vulture and The Washington Post, among other places. Her October article in Entertainment Weekly, “Britney Spears wanted to be a star: An oral history of '...Baby One More Time,'” was an inspiration for the November episode of Hit Parade. Chris is also joined by one listener contestant to play some music trivia, which is all about holiday music. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.   Podcast production by T. J. Raphael. Additional support for this episode comes from Danielle Hewitt and Merritt Jacob.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
14/12/1824m 50s

The Give Me a Sign Edition

From a very young age, Britney Spears seemed destined for stardom. The kid from Louisiana had landed a role on the revived Mickey Mouse Club and styled herself as a belter of power ballads. But to score her first No. 1 hit, Spears would team up with an introverted Swedish songwriter named Max Martin. He was trying to write American R&B and instead, through Britney and her high-school dance formations, created a new template for über–American teen-pop. This month, we go inside the Stockholm music factory—and its decades-long history, from ABBA to Ace of Base—that gave rise to a new generation of millennial pop, from the Backstreet Boys and *N Sync to Robyn and Taylor Swift.  Email: hitparade@slate.com  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
30/11/181h 14m

Music Trivia: ’90s Teen-Pop Edition

Think you know music? Quiz yourself with the latest episode of Hit Parade: The Bridge. This month, on the heels of the 2018 midterm elections, Host Chris Molanphy is joined by T. J. Raphael, senior producer for the Slate Podcast Network, to talk about musicians who make political endorsements. Chris is joined by one listener contestant to play some music trivia, which is all about '90s teen pop. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.   Podcast production by T. J. Raphael.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
16/11/1820m 22s

The Oh. My. God. Becky Edition

In Hit Parade’s “Def Jams Edition,” we told you about rap’s first wave in the ’80s. But in this sequel (don’t believe the hype!) we enter the ’90s with still no No. 1 rap hits on the Hot 100—even though the music was starting to dominate both streets and stores: from conscious rappers like Public Enemy, to gangstas like N.W.A, to left-field innovators like De La Soul. It would take Billboard rebooting its charts in 1991 tallying record sales more accurately than ever with SoundScan data—for rap to get a fair shake on the charts. That boosted a new wave of crossover acts, from P.M. Dawn to Arrested Development to Sir Mix-a-Lot. But rap’s elders were not entirely thrilled at these new chart-toppers…and some rappers literally bum-rushed the show. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/181h 23m

Music Trivia: The '90s Hip-Hop Edition

Think you know music? Hit Parade is back with a new episode of The Bridge. This month, Chris Molanphy is joined by Slate's Mike Pesca. Together, they reflect on the last full-length Hit Parade episode, which was about The BeeGees, and look ahead to next month, which is all about ‘90s hip-hop. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.   Podcast production by Danielle Hewitt  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/1821m 32s

The Nights on Broadway Edition

Those falsettos, those white suits, those toothy smiles: You think you know the Bee Gees. But their story goes back much further than the ’70s, and it’s full of twists. From their roots as an eclectic harmony band in Australia and their first wave of Beatlesque fame, through their domination of the disco revolution and their years as an punchline, the Bee Gees stayed alive because of the Gibb brothers’ harmonies and especially their impeccable songs. This month, Hit Parade traces the influence of the brothers Gibb on virtually every popular genre, from pop to R&B, rock to easy-listening, country to…yes, even hip-hop.  Email: hitparade@slate.com   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/181h 31m

Music Trivia: The Aretha Franklin Edition

Think you know music? Hit Parade is back with a new episode of The Bridge. This month, we honor Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, who died on August 16th. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.   Podcast production by Danielle Hewitt  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/1826m 57s

Madonna: The Veronica Electronica Edition (Encore)

In 1998, Madonna was at a career crossroads. After dominating the ’80s with hits like “Like a Virgin” and “Open Your Heart,” she spent the first half of the ’90s wavering between roles as a provocateur (Erotica, Sex) and adult-contemporary balladeer (“I’ll Remember,” “Take a Bow”). That’s when she took a sharp left turn, working with producers and deejays in the burgeoning electronica scene. If it even was a scene: The very term “electronica” was a music-business confection, and by 1997 it was more hype than hit. But the result of Madonna’s experiment—her acclaimed ’98 album Ray of Light—was not only one of her biggest smashes ever. It also helped turn electronic music into viable pop. Email: hitparade@slate.com   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/181h 15m

The Feat. Don’t Fail Me Now Edition

Guest performers have existed since, literally, the beginning of the pop charts—the first Billboard No. 1 hit had a featured vocal by Frank Sinatra. Throughout the rock era, some very starry guests have helped out with hits by everyone from the Beatles to Carly Simon to Chaka Khan. But for a long time, those guests received no credit at all. Today, their names are all over the pop charts. On this episode, we trace the evolution of the guest performer, from Mick Jagger to Bobby Brown to Cardi B.  Email: hitparade@slate.com   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/181h 12m

The Deadbeat Club Edition, Part Two

In the second part of our two-part episode about the B-52’s and R.E.M.—the bands that put Athens, Georgia on the map, and helped define new-wave rock in the early ’80s—we trace how they transformed themselves from hipsters to hitmakers. One band waited years to graduate from an indie label to the majors. The other almost quit after an AIDS-related tragedy, before their pop breakthrough. By the end of the ’80s, their hits—from “Orange Crush” to “Stand,” “Channel Z” to “Love Shack”—brought them squarely into the mainstream, just as “alternative rock” was coming to define a new sound for the ’90s.  Email: hitparade@slate.com  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/1854m 58s

The Deadbeat Club Edition, Part One

The B-52’s and R.E.M. don’t sound all that much like each other. One group were avatars of kitsch, fusing punk, girl-group and garage rock—even Yoko Ono—into a retro-nuevo style all their own. The other group were mysterious, elliptical, often indecipherable, but they reinvented jangly guitar and classic-rock influences to make a new kind of New Wave. Together, this pair of distinctive bands helped make Athens, Georgia the epicenter of alternative cool in the ’80s and ’90s. In part one of this two-part episode of Hit Parade, we present the story of how the B-52’s and R.E.M. created a scene out of a college town—and became the most prominent queer-friendly, gender-fluid bands of their era.  Email: hitparade@slate.com  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/181h 2m

Music Trivia: The MTV and Alt-Rock Edition

The Bridge is back, and this time it's tackling some music trivia about the heyday of MTV, and some alt-rock favorites. Play along at home and quiz yourself by listening to The Bridge. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email hitparade@slate.com.  Podcast production by T. J. Raphael Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/1818m 36s

The Twerking and Chatrouletting Edition

Even before the launch of MTV, the music video has been making pop songs buzzworthy. And since the early ’80s, it has transformed also-rans into hitmakers—from the Buggles and Duran Duran to Peter Gabriel and a‑ha. But until the early 2010s, watching a video didn’t count on the Billboard charts. That all changed thanks to YouTube—and the biggest immediate beneficiary from the addition of video to the charts was a rising pop star, incubated on the Disney Channel, but looking to change her image. Miley Cyrus was born into hitmaking, line-dancing, multimedia royalty, and she used video titillation—and even the social site Chatroulette—to top the charts. But what did all that provocation mean for…y’know, the music? And how is video still making hits—including the song that’s No. 1 this very week in 2018?  Chris Molanphy explains it all.  hitparade@slate.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/181h 6m

Music Trivia: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Edition

Think you know music? Hit Parade, the pop-chart history podcast from Slate, is back with a new episode of The Bridge. In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy answers some listener mail and invites one contestant onto the show to play some music trivia. Players also have the opportunity to turn the tables on him: They get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with their own trivia question. This month, The Bridge tackles the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and some some music trivia from the ‘00s. Play along at home and quiz yourself by listening to the The Bridge here. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email hitparade@slate.com.  Podcast production by T. J. Raphael Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/1819m 43s

Hit Parade: The You Give Rock a Bad Name Edition

Bon Jovi are many things: platinum-selling, chart-topping and now, Hall of Fame–inducted. That angers music critics, who have been slagging off this band of hard-rock prom kings since the 1980s. Among the haters is Hit Parade host Chris Molanphy, who has loathed Bon Jovi since high school. But even he can’t deny it: Bon Jovi are hugely influential. In the wake of their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, Chris puts aside his animus to explain how the biggest band in hair metal have remained strangely relevant—thanks to their deathless hits, their album sales and, more recently, their influence on a certain hair-metal-loving Swedish pop producer.  Email: hitparade@slate.com   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/181h 10m

Music Trivia: Welcome to Hit Parade—The Bridge

Think you know music? Hit Parade, the pop-chart history podcast from Slate, is rolling out a new feature. Every month, the show will test a listener contestant in a special mini episode called The Bridge.  Host Chris Molanphy will invite one person onto the show to play some music trivia, and contestants have the opportunity to turn the tables on him: They’ll get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the last 25 years, with their own trivia question.  If you want to play along at home and quiz yourself, listen to the first episode of The Bridge here. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member.  Email: hitparade@slate.com  Podcast production by T. J. Raphael Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/1810m 52s

Hit Parade: The Veronica Electronica Edition

In 1998, Madonna was at a career crossroads. After dominating the ’80s with hits like “Like a Virgin” and “Open Your Heart,” she spent the first half of the ’90s wavering between roles as a provocateur (Erotica, Sex) and adult-contemporary balladeer (“I’ll Remember,” “Take a Bow”). That’s when she took a sharp left turn, working with producers and deejays in the burgeoning electronica scene. If it even was a scene: The very term “electronica” was a music-business confection, and by 1997 it was more hype than hit. But the result of Madonna’s experiment—her acclaimed ’98 album Ray of Light—was not only one of her biggest smashes ever. It also helped turn electronic music into viable pop. Email: hitparade@slate.com    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/181h 13m

Hit Parade: The Def Jams Edition

Watching this year’s Grammy Awards, it’s clear hip-hop is the dominant genre in popular music. But back in the ’80s, it was an influential but still underground style looking fora place on the charts and  some mainstream respect. That is, until Run-DMC met Aerosmith. This month, how some out-of-favor ’70s rockers teamed up with the top crew in rap to remake an old hit—in the process, opening lanes for a trio of punks-turned-MCs, and a witty hip-hop lothario. We’re still feeling the reverberations today.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/181h 28m

Hit Parade: The B-Sides Edition

Sometimes record executives and even the musicians themselves get it totally, completely wrong: thinking that throwaway, wacky song was destined for a single’s B-side, only to find it’s actually the No. 1 hit—from the Beatles to Beyoncé. At our first-ever live Hit Parade—recorded at The Bell House in Brooklyn, New York— host and trivia-meister Chris Molanphy and special guest Ted Leo break down some of the most improbable chart-toppers of all time.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/181h 23m

Hit Parade: The Silver Medalists Edition

On the Billboard Hot 100, two  can be the loneliest number. While having a No. 1 song can define an artist’s career, there’s far less glory in finishing one spot shy  of the top slot. Yet some No. 2 hits have gone on to become classics. This month, Chris Molanphy looks at three songs that still loom large in our culture: “Shop Around” by the Miracles; “We Got the Beat” by the Go-Gos; and “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/1853m 6s

Hit Parade: The Queen of Disco Edition

Donna Summer was a hitmaker for two decades and a dancefloor deity for more than three. Her collaborations with Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte were formative in dance, electronic and rock music, influencing everyone from David Bowie and Blondie to Madonna and Moby. But the rock establishment was stinting in its appreciation—whether at Comiskey Park in 1979, or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the 2000s. This month, we examine how Summer became the Queen of Disco…and how she transcended that role altogether.  Email: hitparade@slate.com    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/181h 14m

Hit Parade: Le Petty Prince Edition

In 2004, Prince joined Tom Petty onstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony for what is now regarded as the institution’s greatest live performance. They were both first-ballot inductees—but their similarities go much deeper. On this month’s Hit Parade, we track the surprising parallels between two artists gone far too soon: from their fights with the music industry to their hits across genres and generations—and even the songs they gave to Stevie Nicks. Petty and Prince were category-defying, label-infuriating, and among the best pop songwriters of the late 20th century.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/181h 11m

Hit Parade: The Great War Against the Single Edition

Ever since the ’60s, the recording industry emphasized the album over the single. By the ’80s, they were milking as many hits as possible from an album to convince you to buy it—from Thriller to Hysteria.  But in the ’90s, labels changed tactics and tried to kill retail singles—promoting hits to radio that you could only buy on full-length albums. Why? They wanted consumers to shell out for more profitable CDs. As a result, musicians ranging from MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice, to Pearl Jam and Alanis Morissette, to Chumbawamba and Lou Bega became multiplatinum-selling artists. The industry’s ploy paid off, but it also created consumer resentment as people grew tired of paying nearly $20 to acquire one song. Here’s the story of how the recording industry toyed with consumers and chart fans, and how the internet struck back.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/181h 16m

Hit Parade: The Charity Megasingle Edition

In the mid-1980s, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and “We Are the World” gathered dozens of the biggest stars in music to put on a show for a good cause. The two songs spawned imitators, but today, the charity megasingle is a relic of pop music’s past, except around the holidays. This month, we examine how good intentions, pique, excess, and vanity led to the rise and fall of the do-gooder celebrity pop song.  Email: hitparade@slate.com   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/181h 6m

Hit Parade: The Imperial Elton and George Edition

When Elton John came out as bisexual in 1976, it was a really big deal. It was covered on the evening news. There were angry letters and a decline in sales. And for a generation of queer musicians, like George Michael, it was a lesson: Be careful what you reveal about your sex life to the public. On this episode, we look at the friendship, collaboration, and chart rivalry of the two British icons, who collided on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week in 1988—and later topped the chart together. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/181h 11m

Hit Parade: The Fab Four Sweep Edition

In episode two, Chris Molanphy takes a look at the historic week the Beatles swept the entire Billboard Top Five. You can see that chart right here. It’s a feat that’s never been repeated. But the Fab Four’s total domination of the pop charts was both a reflection of their massive popularity and a huge screwup by their American record label. Here’s the story of how Capitol Records nearly sabotaged the biggest rock band of all time.  Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at Slate.com/gistplus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/1851m 13s

Hit Parade: Red, Red Wine Edition

In this debut episode, Chris Molanphy tells the story of “Red, Red Wine”: a song written in the 1960s by a certain journeyman singer-songwriter who loves a Hot August Night. Improbably, it became a reggae song, before the ’60s were even over—and then, even more improbably,  in the 1980s it was transformed into a lilting, toasting reggae-pop global smash. And it would have been a flop in America if it hadn’t been for an enterprising deejay, who ignored the record labels and picked his own hits. With this song, he even started a two-year fad and a radio mutiny. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
01/11/1838m 37s
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