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Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia

Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia

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.

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Angry Young Men Edition Part 1

Punk was meant to be angry. But the so-called Angry Young Men of the late ?70s U.K. scene were secret sophisticates in punk clothing. They delivered withering lyrics and snarling attitude over melodies a pop fan could love. In so doing, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson and Graham Parker helped transform a slew of back-to-basic styles?pub-rock, power-pop, post-punk?into the catchall category New Wave. It would take over the charts at the turn of the ?80s. But the launch of the MTV era forced these sardonic troubadours to adjust their songwriting for a New Romantic age. Join Chris Molanphy as he chronicles the history of three men who wrote the book on alternative rock before it had a name. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-11-19
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Give Up the Funk Edition Part 2

In the ?70s, funk was pop?the cutting edge of Black music and the way listeners got their groove on, before disco and hip-hop. After James Brown taught a generation a new way to hear rhythm, and George Clinton tore the roof off with his P-Funk axis, nothing would be the same. Rising alongside blaxploitation at the movies, funk took many forms: Curtis Mayfield?s superfly storytelling. War?s low-riding grooves. Kool & the Gang?s jungle boogie. Earth, Wind and Fire?s jazzy crescendos. But when funk began fusing with rock and disco took over the charts, would these acts have to give up the funk? Join Chris Molanphy as he traces the history of funk?s first big decade. You?ll ride the mighty, mighty love rollercoaster and get down just for the funk of it. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-10-29
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Give Up the Funk Edition Part 1

In the ?70s, funk was pop?the cutting edge of Black music and the way listeners got their groove on, before disco and hip-hop. After James Brown taught a generation a new way to hear rhythm, and George Clinton tore the roof off with his P-Funk axis, nothing would be the same. Rising alongside blaxploitation at the movies, funk took many forms: Curtis Mayfield?s superfly storytelling. War?s low-riding grooves. Kool & the Gang?s jungle boogie. Earth, Wind and Fire?s jazzy crescendos. But when funk began fusing with rock and disco took over the charts, would these acts have to give up the funk? Join Chris Molanphy as he traces the history of funk?s first big decade. You?ll ride the mighty, mighty love rollercoaster and get down just for the funk of it. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-10-15
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At Last, My Legacy Has Come Along Edition Part 2

What do you call a song that bombed on the charts back in the day, that now booms out of radios and streaming apps nationwide? Chris Molanphy has a name for these songs: legacy hits. Elton John?s ?Tiny Dancer.? Etta James?s ?At Last.? The Romantics? ?What I Like About You.? Peter Gabriel?s ?In Your Eyes.? Talking Heads? ?Once in a Lifetime.?   Many catalysts can change a song?s trajectory, from movie scenes to stadium singalongs, wedding DJs to evolving tastes. Sometimes the hivemind just collectively decides that this Whitney Houston hit, not that one, is her song for the ages.   Join Chris as he explains how the charts sometimes get it wrong, and how legacy hits correct the record?and counts down 10 of his favorite flops-turned-classics.   Podcast production by Kevin Bendis and Merritt Jacob. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-09-30
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At Last, My Legacy Has Come Along Edition Part 1

What do you call a song that bombed on the charts back in the day, that now booms out of radios and streaming apps nationwide? Chris Molanphy has a name for these songs: legacy hits. Elton John?s ?Tiny Dancer.? Etta James?s ?At Last.? The Romantics? ?What I Like About You.? Peter Gabriel?s ?In Your Eyes.? Talking Heads? ?Once in a Lifetime.?   Many catalysts can change a song?s trajectory, from movie scenes to stadium singalongs, wedding DJs to evolving tastes. Sometimes the hivemind just collectively decides that this Whitney Houston hit, not that one, is her song for the ages.   Join Chris as he explains how the charts sometimes get it wrong, and how legacy hits correct the record?and counts down 10 of his favorite flops-turned-classics.   Podcast production by Kevin Bendis and Merritt Jacob. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-09-17
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Still Billy Joel to Me Part 2

So, sure?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. The truth is, Joel isn?t the Piano Man, he?s the pastiche man. He has openly admitted to borrowing genre tropes, vocal styles, and even specific song hooks from his Baby Boom-era heroes, from Ray Charles to the Beatles to the Supremes. He?s been a jazzy crooner, a saloon balladeer, an anthem rocker, even a pseudo-punk. And on his most hit-packed album, he literally tried on a different song mode on every single?and was rewarded for it. This month, Hit Parade breaks down the uncanny success of pop magpie Billy Joel, the guy who would try anything for a hit: the next phase, new wave, dance craze, any ways. Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch and Kevin Bendis Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-08-26
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Still Billy Joel to Me Part 1

So, sure?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. The truth is, Joel isn?t the Piano Man, he?s the pastiche man. He has openly admitted to borrowing genre tropes, vocal styles, and even specific song hooks from his Baby Boom-era heroes, from Ray Charles to the Beatles to the Supremes. He?s been a jazzy crooner, a saloon balladeer, an anthem rocker, even a pseudo-punk. And on his most hit-packed album, he literally tried on a different song mode on every single?and was rewarded for it. This month, Hit Parade breaks down the uncanny success of pop magpie Billy Joel, the guy who would try anything for a hit: the next phase, new wave, dance craze, any ways. Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch and Kevin Bendis Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-08-12
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Point of No Return Part 2

After the so-called-but-not-really ?death? of disco, dance music in the 1980s moved to its own beat. There was synthpop, electro, hi-NRG and house. But the scrappy genre that seemed to pull it all together was called freestyle?a breakbeat-tempo, Latin-flavored genre fortified with dizzying, proudly synthetic beats. Freestyle grew out of the clubs and streets of New York and Miami and briefly dominated ?80s dance-pop. Freestyle?s flagship artists were only medium-level stars: Shannon. Exposé. Lisa Lisa. Stevie B. Nu Shooz. Sweet Sensation. But these acts?most especially their yearning, floridly romantic, rhythmically hectic songs?punched above their weight on the charts and even affected the hits of superstars from Madonna to Duran Duran, Whitney Houston to Pet Shop Boys. Join Chris Molanphy as he defines the byways of this bespoke dance genre and traces how it bridged the disco era into the hiphop era. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-07-30
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Point of No Return Part 1

After the so-called-but-not-really ?death? of disco, dance music in the 1980s moved to its own beat. There was synthpop, electro, hi-NRG and house. But the scrappy genre that seemed to pull it all together was called freestyle?a breakbeat-tempo, Latin-flavored genre fortified with dizzying, proudly synthetic beats. Freestyle grew out of the clubs and streets of New York and Miami and briefly dominated ?80s dance-pop. Freestyle?s flagship artists were only medium-level stars: Shannon. Exposé. Lisa Lisa. Stevie B. Nu Shooz. Sweet Sensation. But these acts?most especially their yearning, floridly romantic, rhythmically hectic songs?punched above their weight on the charts and even affected the hits of superstars from Madonna to Duran Duran, Whitney Houston to Pet Shop Boys. Join Chris Molanphy as he defines the byways of this bespoke dance genre and traces how it bridged the disco era into the hiphop era. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-07-16
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A Deal with the TV God Part 2

For decades, British alt-pop goddess Kate Bush had never had a Top 10 hit in America. Now, in 2022, she finds herself in the Hot 100?s Top Five?and television got her there. Her classic ?Running Up That Hill? is featured prominently in the latest season of Netflix?s hit ?80s horror fantasy show Stranger Things. This puts Bush in a long lineage of hits spawned or made bigger by TV, dating all the way back to Davy Crockett and Peter Gunn, through Hawaii Five-O and Happy Days, and peaking in the ?80s with Miami Vice and Family Ties. Join host Chris Molanphy as he walks through more than six decades of hits from the so-called boob tube and reveals why?thanks to our streaming age?Kate Bush?s hit might be the biggest TV tune of all. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-07-02
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A Deal with the TV God Part 1

For decades, British alt-pop goddess Kate Bush had never had a Top 10 hit in America. Now, in 2022, she finds herself in the Hot 100?s Top Five?and television got her there. Her classic ?Running Up That Hill? is featured prominently in the latest season of Netflix?s hit ?80s horror fantasy show Stranger Things. This puts Bush in a long lineage of hits spawned or made bigger by TV, dating all the way back to Davy Crockett and Peter Gunn, through Hawaii Five-O and Happy Days, and peaking in the ?80s with Miami Vice and Family Ties. Join host Chris Molanphy as he walks through more than six decades of hits from the so-called boob tube and reveals why?thanks to our streaming age?Kate Bush?s hit might be the biggest TV tune of all. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-06-18
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Flip It and Reverse It Part 2

What was in the water in Virginia Beach? Starting in the ?90s and peaking in the ?00s, Pharrell Williams, Timothy ?Timbaland? Mosley and Missy Elliott?friends and family from the Tidewater Region?made nerdy pop normal on the charts. Their productions whirred, gurgled, pinged and rumbled?the handiwork of studio geeks?while their lyrics embraced the freaky: Missy demanding that you work it?Pharrell declaring he?s a hustler, baby?Timbaland bringing sexy back. Join host Chris Molanphy as he explains how these three supa-dupa fly Virginia Beach geniuses helped us get our freak on. For over two decades, they never left you without a dope beat to step to. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-05-27
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Flip It and Reverse It Part 1

What was in the water in Virginia Beach? Starting in the ?90s and peaking in the ?00s, Pharrell Williams, Timothy ?Timbaland? Mosley and Missy Elliott?friends and family from the Tidewater Region?made nerdy pop normal on the charts. Their productions whirred, gurgled, pinged and rumbled?the handiwork of studio geeks?while their lyrics embraced the freaky: Missy demanding that you work it?Pharrell declaring he?s a hustler, baby?Timbaland bringing sexy back. Join host Chris Molanphy as he explains how these three supa-dupa fly Virginia Beach geniuses helped us get our freak on. For over two decades, they never left you without a dope beat to step to. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-05-21
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Decoder Ring: "We Got Ourselves a Convoy"

In the 1970s, a song about protesting truckers topped the music charts in multiple countries, and kicked off a pop culture craze for CB radios. In early 2022, that same song became an anthem for a new trucker-led protest movement in Canada and the US. How did C.W. McCall?s ?Convoy? come to exist, and what had it been trying to say?  For this episode, which was inspired by a listener?s question, we?ve updated a story that originally aired in 2017, but that could not be more relevant today. Slate producer Evan Chung is going to take us through the history of this bizarre number-one smash, an artifact from a time when truckers were also at the center of the culture. It touches on advertising, hamburger buns, and speed limits but also global conflict, sky-rocketing gas prices, and aggrieved, protesting truck drivers.  Some of the voices you?ll hear in this episode include Bill Fries, advertising executive; Chip Davis, singer and songwriter; and Meg Jacobs, historian and author of Panic at the Pump. This episode of Decoder Ring was written and produced by Evan Chung and Willa Paskin with help from Elizabeth Nakano. Derek John is Sr. Supervising Producer of Narrative Podcasts. Merritt Jacob is our Technical Director. If you have any cultural mysteries you want us to decode, email us at [email protected] If you love the show and want to support us, consider joining Slate Plus. With Slate Plus you get ad-free podcasts, bonus episodes, and total access to all of Slate?s journalism. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-05-13
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I Got Five on It Part 2

Five years ago this month, Hit Parade launched on the Slate podcast network. What have we learned in that half-decade? And what episodes did you love the most? We asked you to vote?and the results may surprise you. Sure, you enjoyed our shows about Madonna, Nirvana, Whitney, Mariah, Bruce, Stevie and Janet. But even more than that, you loved our nerdy deep dives about the producers behind ?Le Freak??the rules for One-Hit Wonders?the college-rockers from Athens, Ga.?the man behind Meat Loaf?the smooth players behind Yacht Rock?and that explainer about why you had to pay top dollar for CDs in the ?90s with only one good song. Join host Chris Molanphy as he shares his founding principles for Hit Parade, and counts down your 20 favorite shows. Happy fifth birthday to us! We?re finally old enough for kindergarten. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-04-30
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I Got Five on It Part 1

Five years ago this month, Hit Parade launched on the Slate podcast network. What have we learned in that half-decade? And what episodes did you love the most? We asked you to vote?and the results may surprise you. Sure, you enjoyed our shows about Madonna, Nirvana, Whitney, Mariah, Bruce, Stevie and Janet. But even more than that, you loved our nerdy deep dives about the producers behind ?Le Freak??the rules for One-Hit Wonders?the college-rockers from Athens, Ga.?the man behind Meat Loaf?the smooth players behind Yacht Rock?and that explainer about why you had to pay top dollar for CDs in the ?90s with only one good song. Join host Chris Molanphy as he shares his founding principles for Hit Parade, and counts down your 20 favorite shows. Happy fifth birthday to us! We?re finally old enough for kindergarten. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-04-16
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Killing Me Softly Part 2

The early ?70s was a great time for R&B queens on the charts: Roberta Flack. Dionne Warwick. Patti LaBelle. Chaka Khan. They had come through the ?60s?Dionne as a smooth pop-and-B star, Patti as a girl-group frontwoman, Roberta as a cabaret pianist?and found themselves in a new decade with limitless possibilities. Flack turned folk songs into chart-topping, Grammy-winning R&B. Warwick shifted from Brill Building pop to Philly soul. LaBelle threw her insane voice at rock, funk and glam. And a relative newcomer, Rufus frontwoman Chaka Khan, followed in their footsteps, commanding the band and converting to disco, then electro. By the ?80s, all four women were ready for a major chart victory lap. Join host Chris Molanphy as he traces four parallel careers that expanded the definition of soul from the ?60s through the ?80s and beyond. These soul sisters, flow sisters, bold sisters?killed us softly, walked on by and were, finally, every woman. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Host Chris Molanphy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-04-01
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Killing Me Softly Part 1

The early ?70s was a great time for R&B queens on the charts: Roberta Flack. Dionne Warwick. Patti LaBelle. Chaka Khan. They had come through the ?60s?Dionne as a smooth pop-and-B star, Patti as a girl-group frontwoman, Roberta as a cabaret pianist?and found themselves in a new decade with limitless possibilities. Flack turned folk songs into chart-topping, Grammy-winning R&B. Warwick shifted from Brill Building pop to Philly soul. LaBelle threw her insane voice at rock, funk, and glam. And a relative newcomer, Rufus frontwoman Chaka Khan, followed in their footsteps, commanding the band and converting to disco, then electro. By the ?80s, all four women were ready for a major chart victory lap. Join host Chris Molanphy as he traces four parallel careers that expanded the definition of soul from the ?60s through the ?80s and beyond. These soul sisters, flow sisters, bold sisters?killed us softly, walked on by and were, finally, every woman. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-03-26
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We Invented the Remix Part 2

Today on Hit Parade, we continue tracing the history of the remix. From Jennifer Lopez to Billie Eilish to Lil Nas X, the remix has become a ubiquitous part of contemporary pop chart battles. In part 2 we continue to story of how the remix became the defacto mode of reviving flagging singles, resulting in some of the most dominant pop songs of all time. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.    Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-02-25
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We Invented the Remix Part 1

Today on Hit Parade, we trace the multifarious history of the remix: a musical term with a universe of meanings. Rethinks. Reboots. Reinventions. Re-recordings. Even instances where the so-called remix came before the supposed original. (How is that even possible?) In a way, the most pivotal ?remix? in chart history was the one so transformative, it compelled a change in our understanding of what a remix even is. In part 1, we explore the experimental origins of the remix and its slow but steady infiltration of the pop charts. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.    Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-02-19
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Rock ?n Soul, Part 2

In part two of our deep dive into Daryl Hall & John Oates' genre-defying streak on the pop charts, Chris Molanphy argues they were also more cutting-edge than you may realize, essentially inventing their own form of cross-racial new wave after spending the ?70s trying everything: rock, R&B, folk, funk, even disco. At their Imperial peak in the early ?80s, Hall and Oates commanded the pop, soul and dance charts while still getting played on rock stations. And decades later, when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ignored them, it was Black artists?rappers and soul fans?who pushed them in. Join Chris Molanphy for a dissection of the Philly duo who invented ?rock ?n soul? and made their dreams come true. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.    Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-01-28
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Rock ?n Soul, Part 1

Daryl Hall and John Oates: Their songs were earworms, their videos cheap and goofy. John Oates?s mustache and Daryl Hall?s mullet are relics of their time. And?for about five years, their crazy streak on the pop charts was comparable to Elvis, the Beatles and the Bee Gees. They were also more cutting-edge than you may realize, essentially inventing their own form of cross-racial new wave after spending the ?70s trying everything: rock, R&B, folk, funk, even disco. At their Imperial peak in the early ?80s, Hall and Oates commanded the pop, soul and dance charts while still getting played on rock stations. And decades later, when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ignored them, it was Black artists?rappers and soul fans?who pushed them in. Join Chris Molanphy for a dissection of the Philly duo who invented ?rock ?n soul? and made their dreams come true. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.    Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-01-15
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One Year: Hey Macarena!

Hey Hit Parade fans! Here's an episode from another show we think you?ll like.  Slate's history podcast One Year introduces you to people and ideas that changed American history, one year at a time. The new season of One Year covers 1995, a year when homegrown terrorists attacked Oklahoma City and America went online. This episode is about ?Macarena??yes, that ?Macarena,? the song and the dance that became the defining left-field pop happening of the mid-?90s. This bilingual song by a pair of Spaniards, and a couple of Miami DJs they?d never met, brought joy to millions, and it topped the charts for months, winding up Billboard?s No. 1 hit of 1996?over smashes by Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men and Celine Dion. And then, just as quickly, ?Macarena? became a cultural pariah. If you like this episode, follow One Year wherever you get podcasts. One Year is produced by Josh Levin, Evan Chung, and Madeline Ducharme. Additional production help from Cheyna Roth. Mixing by Merritt Jacob. Slate Plus members get to hear more about the making of One Year. Get access to extra episodes, listen to the show without any ads, and support One Year by signing up for Slate Plus for just $1 right now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2022-01-11
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Chestnut Roasters, Part 2

In part 2 of this holiday episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy dives deep into radio, streaming and Billboard chart data of some your favorite holiday hitmakers to compare their long legacies to the majority-merry ways they are consumed today. And none has been more condensed by Christmas than another artist who was once famous enough to go by her first name: Brenda. A ?60s chart dominator and double?Hall of Famer, Brenda Lee is now mostly known for that tune about Christmas tree rockin?. How did the legendary ?Little Miss Dynamite? become Santa?s little helper? And will she ever pass Mariah and go back to No. 1? Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-12-31
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Chestnut Roasters, Part 1

Bing. Nat. Dean. John and Paul. Darlene. Mariah. Ariana. Musicians so famous, with so many classic hits, you don?t even need their last names. Now here are a few more, with fewer hits: Vince Guaraldi. José Feliciano. Donny Hathaway. The Waitresses. What do all of these acts have in common? Years from now, each of them may be known primarily for a single holiday chestnut. In fact, in the streaming era, some of them already are consumed largely in December. In this holiday episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy dives deep into radio, streaming and Billboard chart data to compare these acts? long hitmaking histories to the majority-merry ways they are consumed today. And none has been more condensed by Christmas than another artist who was once famous enough to go by her first name: Brenda. A ?60s chart dominator and double?Hall of Famer, Brenda Lee is now mostly known for that tune about Christmas tree rockin?. How did the legendary ?Little Miss Dynamite? become Santa?s little helper? And will she ever pass Mariah and go back to No. 1? Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-12-18
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Be the One to Walk in the Sun, Part 2

In Part 2 of this episode, Chris Molanphy continues his analysis of how Cyndi Lauper, Aimee Mann, and The Bangles, three contemporary female acts with rock foundations and pop sensibilities, progressed out of their distinctive rock scenes and into the spotlight. They found critical and commercial acclaim and remain influential decades later, in a variety of media, from Hollywood to Broadway. What forces were they up against, and how did they fight to define themselves?  Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-12-03
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Be the One to Walk in the Sun, Part 1

Thirty-five years ago, in the fall of 1986, women with rock foundations and pop sensibilities were doing quite well on the charts. Three acts in particular were drawing sizable attention?and they were all singing on the same album: Cyndi Lauper?s True Colors, which featured backing vocals by the Bangles and ?Til Tuesday?s Aimee Mann. It turns out these women had more than that brief coincidence in common. Lauper, Mann and the Bangles came up at the same postpunk, new-wave moment in ?80s pop. And they fought many of the same battles: record-label machinations?a media that stoked rivalries, whether or not they existed?and a sexist music industry that repeatedly underestimated their skills. In this Hit Parade episode, Chris Molanphy recounts how these women emerged from distinctive rock scenes??from punk-era New York and Boston, to L.A.?s Paisley Underground?then outgrew them. They found critical and commercial acclaim and remain influential decades later, in a variety of media, from Hollywood to Broadway. What forces were they up against, and how did they fight to define themselves?  Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-11-20
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I Write Sins, Not Tragedies, Part 2

In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy traces the lineage of ?90s bands like Green Day, Offspring and Blink?182 to their descendants in ?00s emo artisans Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco and their skinny-jeans-wearing, smarty-pants contemporaries.   Podcast production by Asha Saluja with help from Rosemary Belson. We have a special announcement! This year is the 25th anniversary of Slate. And for a limited time, we?re offering our annual Slate Plus membership at $25 off. As a Slate Plus member, you'll get to hear every Hit Parade episode in full, the day it arrives; plus Hit Parade??The Bridge,? our bonus episodes, with guest interviews, deeper dives on our episode topics, and pop-chart trivia. Plus, you?ll get no ads on any Slate podcast, unlimited reading on the Slate site, and member-exclusive episodes and segments. This offer lasts until October 31st, so sign up now at slate.com/hitparadeplus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-10-29
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I Write Sins, Not Tragedies, Part 1

?Punk happened, past tense.? That?s what Boomer-era critics and true-believer punks told the younger generations. Punk?s whole reason for being was rejecting the mainstream. But punk wasn?t just a movement?it was also a genre. And 20 years after it first emerged, punk went from underground to overground, dominating the radio for the first time.   In this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy traces how punk traveled from Sid Vicious to strip mall, through the lineage of ?90s bands Green Day, Offspring and Blink?182, and ?00s emo artisans Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco and their skinny-jeans-wearing, smarty-pants contemporaries. From the CBGB era to the current Billboard Hot 100, punk is no historical artifact?it?s still morphing and adapting. And for all its supposed opposition to convention, the dirty little secret is: Punk has always been catchy.   Podcast production by Asha Saluja with help from Rosemary Belson. We have a special announcement! This year is the 25th anniversary of Slate. And for a limited time, we?re offering our annual Slate Plus membership at $25 off. As a Slate Plus member, you'll get to hear every Hit Parade episode in full, the day it arrives; plus Hit Parade??The Bridge,? our bonus episodes, with guest interviews, deeper dives on our episode topics, and pop-chart trivia. Plus, you?ll get no ads on any Slate podcast, unlimited reading on the Slate site, and member-exclusive episodes and segments. This offer lasts until October 31st, so sign up now at slate.com/hitparadeplus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-10-16
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Spirit of ?71, Part 2

In Part 2 of our 50th episode of Hit Parade, we go back 50 years, celebrating the semicentennial of the year when, critics claim, ?music changed everything.? The Quiet Beatle became the Favorite Beatle, when Mick Jagger sang lyrics even he regrets, when Carole King graduated from songwriter to singer-songwriter, and commercial juggernaut, when blaxploitation took over the charts and the Oscars, and when the radio was somehow awash in Osmonds. It wasn?t a perfect year?but Hit Parade host Chris Molanphy is fond of ?71 for personal reasons.  Podcast production by Asha Saluja with help from Rosemary Belson. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-09-24
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Spirit of ?71, Part 1

At any given time, the music world is celebrating some anniversary, but 1971 has received more than its share of commemorations this year. And with good reason: Carole King. Marvin Gaye. Joni Mitchell. Sly Stone. Janis Joplin. The Who. All released their best work a half-century ago. For our 50th episode of Hit Parade, we go back 50 years, celebrating the semicentennial of the year when, critics claim, ?music changed everything.? The Quiet Beatle became the Favorite Beatle, when Mick Jagger sang lyrics even he regrets, when Carole King graduated from songwriter to singer-songwriter, and commercial juggernaut, when blaxploitation took over the charts and the Oscars, and when the radio was somehow awash in Osmonds. It wasn?t a perfect year?but Hit Parade host Chris Molanphy is fond of ?71 for personal reasons.  Podcast production by Asha Saluja with help from Rosemary Belson. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-09-10
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What a Fool Believes, Part 2

In part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy continues his deep dive on Yacht Rock, the retroactive genre label for the sleek, jazzy, R&B-flavored sound that cropped up in the late '70s and early '80s amongst polished, perfectionist West Coast studio musicians. Whatever you call it, this music really did command the charts at the turn of the ?80s: from Steely Dan to George Benson, Michael McDonald to Kenny Loggins, Toto to?Michael Jackson?! Believe it: even Thriller is partially a Yacht Rock album. This month, Hit Parade breaks down what Yacht Rock was and how it took over the charts four decades ago?from the perfectionism of ?Peg,? to the bounce of ?What a Fool Believes,? to the epic smoothness of ?Africa.? This episode was released in August 2020 exclusively for Slate Plus listeners. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-08-27
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What a Fool Believes, Part 1

In the late ?70s and early ?80s, a scene and a sound cropped up on the West Coast: polished, perfectionist studio musicians who generated sleek, jazzy, R&B-flavored music. About a quarter-century later, this sound was given a name: Yacht Rock. The inventors of the genre name weren?t thinking about boats?well, unless the song was Christopher Cross?s ?Sailing.? Yacht Rock was meant to signify deluxe, yuppified, ?smooth? music suitable for playing on luxury nautical craft. Whatever you call it, this music really did command the charts at the turn of the ?80s: from Steely Dan to George Benson, Michael McDonald to Kenny Loggins, Toto to?Michael Jackson?! Believe it: even Thriller is partially a Yacht Rock album. This month, Hit Parade breaks down what Yacht Rock was and how it took over the charts four decades ago?from the perfectionism of ?Peg,? to the bounce of ?What a Fool Believes,? to the epic smoothness of ?Africa.? This episode was released in August 2020 exclusively for Slate Plus listeners. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-08-13
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Tramps Like Us, Part 2

In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy continues his analysis of the career and legacy of the legendary and sometimes-misunderstood Bruce Springsteen. In his second decade, Springsteen wasn?t just a hitmaker?he was the archetype: the symbol of flag-waving American rock, even when the song was less patriotism than protest. Advertisers, other pop stars, President Ronald Reagan?everybody glommed onto Bruce, and virtually all of them got him wrong. Just in time for summer, Hit Parade takes on the Boss, pop star. How did Bruce Springsteen invent his persona and find his truth? Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Hit Parade episodes are now split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-07-30
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Tramps Like Us, Part 1

Bruce Springsteen has been a legend so long, it?s easy to forget that, for his first decade, he had trouble getting a hit. Yes, even the legendary ?Born to Run?: It missed Billboard?s Top 20. And yet, several of Springsteen?s songs became big hits for others: the song with the misheard lyric about ?a deuce? that went to No. 1 for a British band. The song he couldn?t finish that became a hit for a punk priestess. The song he refused to let his record label hear that became a massive hit for the Pointer Sisters. The hit he almost gave away to the Ramones.   In his second decade, on the other hand, Springsteen wasn?t just a hitmaker?he was the archetype: the symbol of flag-waving American rock, even when the song was less patriotism than protest. Advertisers, other pop stars, President Ronald Reagan?everybody glommed onto Bruce, and virtually all of them got him wrong. Just in time for summer, Hit Parade takes on the Boss, pop star. How did Bruce Springsteen invent his persona and find his truth? For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Production by Asha Saluja, with help from Rosemary Belson. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-07-17
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Say My Name, Say My Name, Part 2

In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy continues his analysis of when singing became central to rap music. Rap has always been musical. But back in the day, rappers generally, well, rapped: talked in cadence over a beat. Fans judged MCs primarily by their rhymes and rhythms, not their melodies. Now? Rappers are mostly singers: MCs from Drake to DaBaby slip seamlessly in and out of melody. Some hits that appear on Billboard?s Rap charts feature literally no rapping. When did this change? Part 2 takes a close look at an integral pivot point in this progression: when Beyoncé changed the game by singing with triple-time flow like the baddest MC.   Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Hit Parade episodes are now split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-07-02
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Say My Name, Say My Name, Part 1

Let?s be clear: Rap has always been musical. But back in the day, rappers generally, well, rapped: talked in cadence over a beat. Fans judged MCs primarily by their rhymes and rhythms, not their melodies. Now? Rappers are mostly singers: MCs from Drake to DaBaby slip seamlessly in and out of melody. Some hits that appear on Billboard?s Rap charts feature literally no rapping. When did this change? In this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy walks through the history of hip-hop?from Gil Scott-Heron to Lil Nas X?to trace the evolving role of melody in rap?s conquest of the charts. The broadening of rap to include more female MCs, from Queen Latifah to Lauryn Hill, had a lot to do with it. But all roads lead through rap-and-B?s power couple, Jay-Z and Beyoncé. The pivot point may have been when Queen Bey realized she could sing with triple-time flow like the baddest MC.   Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Hit Parade episodes are now split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-06-18
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Blame It on the Feign, Part 2

In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy continues his analysis of Milli Vanilli, the musical act that many of us who were around in 1989 listened to more than they might admit. They also have quite a legacy: a blend of pop, dance and rap that now seems commonplace but was still relatively novel then. If you?ve danced to Europop that fronts like hip-hop, you?re living in a world Milli Vanilli helped create.   Chris Molanphy continues to break down the history of Milli Vanilli mastermind Frank Farian?s musical career: from his burst of Billboard chart success, to the storied past of the Best New Artist Grammy award. From MTV News to Behind the Music, the Milli Vanilli story has been told and retold. But the Billboard chart feats achieved by Rob and Fab, and their accomplices, reveal just how addicted America was to their music?and maybe, how they won that Grammy. Hit Parade episodes are now split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Podcast production by Asha Saluja with help from Rosemary Belson. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-05-28
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Blame It on the Feign, Part 1

For a musical project that?s synonymous with deceit, Milli Vanilli sold an awful lot of records. They also have quite a legacy: a blend of pop, dance and rap that now seems commonplace but was still relatively novel in 1989. If you?ve danced to Europop that fronts like hip-hop, you?re living in a world Milli Vanilli helped create.   In this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy breaks down the history of Milli Vanilli mastermind Frank Farian?s musical career: from his days with Boney M, a hit-making, half-real, half-fake group that was a precursor to his later scheme; to his enlistment of European model?dancers Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan to be the faux-frontpeople of Milli Vanilli. From MTV News to Behind the Music, the Milli Vanilli story has been told and retold. But the Billboard chart feats achieved by Rob and Fab, and their accomplices, reveal just how addicted America was to their music?and maybe, how they won that Grammy. Hit Parade episodes are now split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info.   Podcast production by Asha Saluja with help from Rosemary Belson. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-05-20
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Taylor?s Version of Country, Part 2

In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy continues his analysis of Taylor: the country years, dissecting how she gradually, step by step, became the new queen of pop one irresistible song at a time. She went from interviewing bigger stars on MTV?s red carpet one year, to being the talk of the Video Music Awards the next?even before Kanye took that microphone away from her. He told Taylor he would let her finish, but the game was already over. Swift had the most played song in the USA.   Podcast production by Asha Saluja, with help from Rosemary Belson. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-04-30
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Taylor?s Version of Country, Part 1

Taylor Swift?s new album is a reboot of an old album: Fearless, her 2008 chart-topping juggernaut that made her the biggest star on the Billboard charts. But Fearless (Taylor?s Version)?filled with banjos, steel guitars and fiddles?is also a reminder for those who forgot: Swift was once the top act in country music, too. From Dolly Parton to Shania Twain, the Chicks to Faith Hill, no country artist has ever crossed over to pop the way Taylor did, utterly dominating one genre before she took over another.   In this episode, Chris Molanphy focuses on Taylor: the country years, dissecting how she gradually, step by step, became the new queen of pop one irresistible song at a time. She went from interviewing bigger stars on MTV?s red carpet one year, to being the talk of the Video Music Awards the next?even before Kanye took that microphone away from her. He told Taylor he would let her finish, but the game was already over. Swift had the most played song in the USA.   Podcast production by Asha Saluja, with help from Rosemary Belson. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-04-17
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Don?t Know Much About History, Part 2

In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy continues his analysis of the music of Sam Cooke. The Oscar-nominated film One Night in Miami? imagines the conversation between Cooke, Malcolm X, Cassius Clay and Jim Brown the night in 1964 they gathered to celebrate the soon-to-be Muhammad Ali?s heavyweight victory. Malcolm X challenges Sam Cooke to use his amazing voice to help ?the struggle.? Little did he know Cooke had already recorded his civil?rights masterpiece, ?A Change Is Gonna Come.?   In his too-brief career?seven years as a gospel star, then seven more as a chart-conquering superstar?Sam Cooke took a remarkable journey: from the pathbreaking pop of ?You Send Me,? to the wistful R&B of ?(What a) Wonderful World,? to the yearning romance of ?Bring It on Home to Me,? to?of course?the now-legendary ?Change Is Gonna Come.? Meet the man who defined what soul music was and could be.   Hit Parade episodes are now split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info. Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-04-02
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Don?t Know Much About History, Part 1

The Oscar-nominated film One Night in Miami? imagines the conversation between Sam Cooke, Malcolm X, Cassius Clay and Jim Brown the night in 1964 they gathered to celebrate the soon-to-be Muhammad Ali?s heavyweight victory. Malcolm X challenges Sam Cooke to use his amazing voice to help ?the struggle.? Little did he know Cooke had already recorded his civil?rights masterpiece, ?A Change Is Gonna Come.?   In this episode, Chris Molanphy sets the record straight on the man now called the King of Soul. In his too-brief career?seven years as a gospel star, then seven more as a chart-conquering superstar?Sam Cooke took a remarkable journey: from the pathbreaking pop of ?You Send Me,? to the wistful R&B of ?(What a) Wonderful World,? to the yearning romance of ?Bring It on Home to Me,? to?of course?the now-legendary ?Change Is Gonna Come.? Meet the man who defined what soul music was and could be.   Hit Parade episodes are now split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info. Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-03-23
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The AC/DC Rule, Part 2

In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy continues to demonstrate a weird chart phenomenon he calls The AC/DC Rule. Hit Parade episodes are now split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive. Click here for more info. What was the only No. 1 album by Jimi Hendrix? How about the first No. 1 by Billy Joel? Jackson Browne? Pat Benatar? Pearl Jam? Lady Gaga?   In all cases, the answer isn?t obvious?it?s not the album you know best, the one with the most hits on it. It?s the album after that classic that goes to No. 1. And there?s no better example than AC/DC, the Australian-by-way-of-Scotland hard rock band that?s sold more than 20 million copies of Back in Black. But it was their next album (can you name it?) that topped the Billboard album chart.   Just as less-good movie sequels open better at the box office than classic first installments, follow-up albums often chart higher than their slow-growing but hit-packed predecessors. Some of the rock and pop legends who fell prey to this chart phenomenon might surprise you?might just leave you shook all night long.   Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-02-26
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The AC/DC Rule, Part 1

Quick, what was the only No. 1 album by Jimi Hendrix? How about the first No. 1 by Billy Joel? Jackson Browne? Pat Benatar? Pearl Jam? Lady Gaga?   In all cases, the answer isn?t obvious?it?s not the album you know best, the one with the most hits on it. It?s the album after that classic that goes to No. 1. And there?s no better example than AC/DC, the Australian-by-way-of-Scotland hard rock band that?s sold more than 20 million copies of Back in Black. But it was their next album (can you name it?) that topped the Billboard album chart.   Chris Molanphy has coined a term for this weird chart phenomenon: He calls it The AC/DC Rule. Just as less-good movie sequels open better at the box office than classic first installments, follow-up albums often chart higher than their slow-growing but hit-packed predecessors. Some of the rock and pop legends who fell prey to this chart phenomenon might surprise you?might just leave you shook all night long.   Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-02-13
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These Are the Good Times, Part 2

Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus. In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, we continue the story of how Chic?cofounded by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards?gave life to disco through the 1980s and beyond. Their ?Good Times? bassline spawned a slew of copycats, from ?Rapper?s Delight? to ?Another One Bites the Dust? to ?Rapture.? And as if that wasn?t enough, over the next decade, the Chic masterminds became the secret sauce for a range of cutting-edge pop acts, producing and writing for everyone from Diana Ross and David Bowie to Madonna, Duran Duran and the B-52?s. Nile Rodgers even scored a hit in the 2010s with a pair of French robots who ?got lucky? with another take on the Chic groove. Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-01-29
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These Are the Good Times, Part 1

Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus. How can you tell disco didn?t really die at the start of the 1980s? Because half of ?80s pop owed its sound to one of disco?s most seminal acts. Chic?cofounded by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards?would be legendary if all they?d done was record the?70s disco smashes ?Le Freak,? ?I Want Your Love? and ?Good Times.? Indeed, the ?Good Times? bassline spawned a slew of copycats, from ?Rapper?s Delight? to ?Another One Bites the Dust? to ?Rapture.? As if that wasn?t enough, over the next decade, the Chic masterminds became the secret sauce for a range of cutting-edge pop acts, producing and writing for everyone from Diana Ross and David Bowie to Madonna, Duran Duran and the B-52?s. Nile Rodgers even scored a hit in the 2010s with a pair of French robots who ?got lucky? with another take on the Chic groove. Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2021-01-19
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Smells Like Christmas Spirit, Part 2

Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus. In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, we continue the story of how Nirvana?s Nevermind ousted Michael Jackson?s Dangerous from the top of the Billboard album chart, Chris Molanphy examines the chart dynamics that not only ushered in the grunge era but also invented a new music sales strategy, the post-Christmas album, and how that trend has been shaped and changed by the rise of rap, and the surprise album drop. Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2020-12-31
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Smells Like Christmas Spirit, Part 1

Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus. When Nirvana?s Nevermind ousted Michael Jackson?s Dangerous from the top of the Billboard album chart, it made headlines in early 1992. Only, it didn?t really happen in ?92. What gave Nirvana the win happened right after Christmas ?91. Teenagers who were home for the holidays voted with their gift cards, and they gave Kurt Cobain?s band the win over the King of Pop. This month, Chris Molanphy examines the chart dynamics that not only ushered in the grunge era but also invented a new music sales strategy, the post-Christmas album. Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2020-12-14
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Friends in Low Places, Part 2

Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus. Hit Parade continues the story of Garth Brooks. In the ?90s, he was country-authentic, ignored pop radio, and still utterly dominated the charts as the decade?s biggest multiplatinum megastar. Brooks took on chart competitors from Guns n? Roses to Madonna to Mariah Carey and bested them all ? until he tried taking on the Beatles. (And we?re still scratching our heads over that Chris Gaines thing.)  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2020-11-27
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