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Switched on Pop

Switched on Pop

What makes pop songs so catchy? Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work their magic on our ears & our culture. You?ll fall in love with music you didn?t even know you liked.


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

The pace of new music production these days is dizzying. Sometimes it?s like watching someone do a magic trick--we *swear* those songs weren?t there a second ago! But then, there they are, popping up in batches right out of thin air. Of course, behind each of those individual releases sits months of decision-making by each artist: who to collaborate with and when, how to structure the musical product of that collaboration, what to call it, how to release it, when, and on what platform. The list is long, and each of those choices has a big impact on how we hear the song.
The Verge?s Dani Deahl recently sat down with reigning Princess of Pop, Charli XCX, to discuss how she personally approaches those decisions, and how that approach is bucking long-established norms in popular music. In this special bonus episode of Switched on Pop, Dani rings up Charlie (not XCX) to recap that conversation and put Charli (XCX)?s artistry in context. Via Dani, we learn that for Charli?collaboration is more than just an artistic choice; and release strategy is much more than a major label playbook. There?s a total freedom in the way Charli releases music, and we love it. Huge thanks to Dani for bringing us this peek into her world.
Songs discussed:Charli XCX - Boom ClapCharli XCX, Christine and the Queens - GoneCharli XCX ft. Lizzo - Blame It On Your LoveLizzo - Truth HurtsCatch the rest of Dani?s conversation with both Charli/es in the newest episode of The Verge?s ?Future of Music? video series, at

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The ?Baby Shark? Phenomenon (with Andrea Silenzi)

For most parents, ?Baby Shark? is the nightmare that will not end. Ever since the South Korean educational company Pinkfong released the song earlier this year, it?s almost impossible to avoid.
The infectious children?s tune has more than 2.3 billion views on YouTube and made it onto the Billboard Top 40 list. So what makes this song so catchy and irresistible to children? And how do the rest of us cope with the unavoidable hit while keeping our sanity?

Andrea Silenz, host of the parenting podcast The Longest Shortest Time, and Charlie explore the phenomenon that is ?Baby Shark.

Songs DiscussedPinkfong - Baby SharkFrank Zappa - Baby SnakesStevie Wonder - Isn?t She Lovely Suzanne Vega - Tom?s DinerBaby Shark/ Tom?s Diner mashup ?Baby Diner?The Weeknd - I Can?t Feel My FaceRadioheadPinkfong - The Penguin DancePinkfong - Lions in LoveDrake - God?s PlanMicheal Jackson - Billie JeanWhitney Houston - I Wanna Dance With SomebodyBruno Mars - Uptown FunkBeastie Boys - Brass MonkeyVanilla Ice - Ice Ice BabyJosh Groban - River The Beatles - All You Need Is LoveHarry Potter theme Raffi - Baby Beluga 

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

Ross Golan is no stranger to Switched on Pop. This week, the songwriter and host of the hit podcast And The Writer Is? joins Charlie for a BONUS episode (cue siren) about the surprising lessons learned from a collective seven years behind the interview mic. Tune in as Ross and Charlie discuss the infinite shelf-life of classic songwriting techniques, the happy accidents behind some of your favorite hit songs, and the essential qualities of a good listener.

Find more Ross on Switched on Pop in Episode 58, ?What?s to Love About Ed Sheeran??, and catch more of And The Writer Is? when Season 5 premiers this Monday, September 9th ? anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Episodes discussed:#80 How to ?Make Me Feel? with Lizzo#123 What BTS?s ?Boy With Love? ft. Halsey Can Teach Us About K-pop#99 Entering Beard Phase (with Mike Posner)#107 How Streaming Changed the Sound of PopSongs Discussed:Lizzo - Truth HurtsSister Nancy - Bam BamPaul Anka - Put Your Hand on My ShoulderBTS ft. Halsey - Boy with LuvAriana Grande - Break Free

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Switched Off Book (with Jess McKenna and Zach Reino)

On this very special episode, we join forces with the hilarious podcast OFF BOOK. When our powers combine, Zach and Jess of Off Book, plus their killer backing band of Scott, Dana and Brett create an improvised musical, while Nate and Charlie break down the sound and structure of a Broadway show. Stay tuned for deep thoughts about what separates pop music from musicals, wild speculation about the origin of the word ?vamp,? and an ENTIRE FREAKING MUSICAL COMPOSED FROM SCRATCH that will make you laugh your face off. This is not one to miss.

Find more episodes of Off Book on their website, or anywhere you find podcasts.

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ICYMI: How to 'Make Me Feel' with Lizzo

"Make Me Feel," is the first hit from Janelle Monáe's 2018 album Dirty Computer,  and a sensual song about the fluidity of desire. In the pre-chorus, the singer proudly expresses that she is a "sexual bender." Fans have embraced the song for breaking free of normative sexual expectations. But these non-binary statements aren't limited to the lyrics. The message is reinforced with musical concepts drawn from the blues, Prince and Michael Jackson. To help break down this track, Nate and Charlie are joined by singer/rapper Lizzo. She and Monáe both collaborated with Prince, making Lizzo uniquely qualified to unwind his influence on the song. We also discuss Lizzo's song "Truth Hurts" and her podcast "Good As Hell" where she talks to the queens of hip hop. Hands down, Lizzo is one of the most talented, knowledgable and fun guests. You don't want to miss this episode.

Songs DiscussedJanelle Monáe - Make Me FeelMichael Jackson - The Way You Make Me FeelMichael Jackson - Beat ItFats Domino - Blueberry HillPrince - KissYing Yang Twins - Wait (The Whisper Song)Lizzo - Truth HurtsSister Nancy - Bam
Don't miss Lizzo's podcast "Good As Hell" on Spotify

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ICYMI: Why is 90s Pop so Bizarre?

Today we're revisiting an episode inspired by a pair of classic VH1 shows: ?Behind the Music? and ?Where Are They Now??

Our subjects are two songs representing the lunatic fringe of 90s culture, ?Cotton Eyed Joe? and ?How Bizarre.?

In the course of our musicological investigation, we uncover dark truths about these seemingly anodyne hits that will make you question everything you know about pop music.

And in the end, we reach a definitive answer to a perennially vexing question: ?WTF was 90s music so weird??

Songs Discussed

Cotton Eye Joe
Pop in an Oak
The Way I Mate

Cotton Eyed Joe:
Fiddlin John Carson
Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys
Karen Dalton
Nina Simone

How Bizarre
Right On

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Songs of Summer Call-in Special

Every year, critics and media outlets the world over put out definitive song-of-summer guides based on... well, we?re not always entirely sure. Certainly popularity, as measured by streams and radio play; not to mention that bewildering feeling that creeps up some time mid-July, prompting whispered exclamations of: ?man, this song is everywhere.? But the most ubiquitous track isn?t necessarily the one you?ll have on repeat on those steamy summer commutes to work, nor is it the song you?ll want soundtracking this year?s vacations, graduations, summer flings and backyard cookouts.

In this episode, we abandon the pursuit of a single song of summer, and ask the question we?re more interested in: What does summer sound like? To answer that question, we asked you, our listeners, and got some downright awesome suggestions in return. Your voicemails covered everything from Hot Girl Summer anthems and nostalgia-inducing dance jams, to globally infused collaborations and just-released future-feeling indie rock cuts. Today, we travel across the full spectrum of summer feels, and the music that comes through when we need it the most.

Songs DiscussedMUNA - Number One FanAmber Mark - Put You OnJonas Brothers - Only HumanShawn Mendes, Camila Cabello - SeñoritaCharlie XCX, Christine and the Queens - GoneBTS, Zara Larsson - Brand New DayKaty Perry - Teenage DreamPost Malone - SunflowerLil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus - Old Town RoadPinkfong - Baby Shark Khalid - BetterMegan Thee Stallion - Big ol? FreakMegan Thee Stallion, Juicy J - Simon SaysSaweetie - My TypePetey Pablo - Freak-A-LeakCity Girls - Act UpMegan Thee Stallion, DaBaby - Cash ShitClairo - Sofia HAIM - Summer GirlLou Reed - Walk on the Wild SideMother?s Daughter - Miley CyrusRosalía - Aute CutureAriana Grande - NASABANKS - GimmeGrimes, Hana - We appreciate powerLizzo - Truth HurtsPaul McCartney - JetDon Henley - The Boys of SummerSantana, Rob Thomas - SmoothBritney Spears - ToxicThe Slits - I Heard it Through the Grapevine Missy Elliott - SlideFreddie Gibbs, Madlib - CataractsVampire Weekend - 2021
Misc extras

Listen to all of these songs and more on the Switched on Pop Songs of Summer 2019 Playlist


In this episode we made light of PTSD by using the term irreverently - thanks to listener feedback we're better aware of how destructive such diminishing comments can be to people dealing with trauma. We apologize for the misuse and will strive to avoid it in the future. 

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

The sound of R&B is difficult to pin down. Since the 1950s, the label has been used both as a genre and as a catch-all for the entirety of black popular music. Soul, funk, disco and even hip-hop have at times been covered by this "R&B" umbrella. On Chance The Rapper's new album, The Big Day, all of these influences come through?and he's not alone. On recent Kehlani records, 90s R&B and 2000s trap both play a role. But both these artists are a far cry from the 50s R&B sounds of Sam Cooke. To understand how R&B has changed over time, we consult with Trevor Anderson, manager of Billboard's R&B/Hip Hop chart. Then we speak with R&B super-producer Oak Felder to understand how R&B is progressing and what it might become.

Songs DiscussedChance The Rapper - Hot ShowerChance The Rapper - I Got YouSam Cooke - You Send MeElvis Presley - Crying In the ChapelThe Temptations - I Can?t Get Next To YouMtume - Juicy FruitBiggie - JuicyToni Braxton - Breath AgainJanet Jackson - That?s The Way Love GoesBoys II Men - I?ll Make Love To YouLauryn Hill - Doo Wop (That Thing)Diddy - I?ll Be Missing You (feat. Faith Evans & 112)Nelly - DilemmaKehlani - DistractionSWV - WeakAaron Hall - I Miss YouUsher - You Make Me WannaBrandy - Sittin' Up In My RoomDru Hill - In My BedSilk - Freak MeDemi Lovato - Sorry Not SorryJodeci - Cry For youMariah Carey - Vision of LoveKehlani - Everything Is YoursChance The Rapper - All Day LongQueen - Fat Bottom GirlsDiana Ross - I?m Coming Out
For an in depth history of R&B on Billboard, read Chris Molanphy's feature on Pitchfork.

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Beyoncé's Gift To Africa (with Ivie Ani)

For the live action remake of the Lion King, Beyoncé, (who voices Nala in the film), recorded and curated a companion soundtrack called The Gift. She worked with leading Afropop stars to expose the music of the continent to a global audience. In her piece, ?Diversity Is in the Details: What Beyoncé?s 'The Lion King: The Gift' Gets Right and Wrong,? Okayplayer music editor Ivie Ani argues that the album highlights music while unintentionally treating the continent as a monolith. Ani joins Switched On Pop to break down this album and what it means for Afropop.

Songs DiscussedBeyoncé, Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, Oumou Sangaré ? MOOD 4 EVAOumou Sangaré ? Diaraby NenBurna Boy ? JA ARAFela Kuti ? Water No Get EnemyFena, MDQ, Mayonde, Kagwe, Blinky Bill ? PARTY NATIONListen to Blinky and Ivie?s East African playlist recommendations

Leave us a voicemail about your favorite songs of summer: 385-626-6179

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LCD Soundsystem and the Unbearable Sameness of Restaurant Playlists

Why is it that every hip restaurant plays the same music? When Eater restaurant editor Hillary Dixler Canavan kept hearing similar songs while dining for work assignments, she compiled a playlist of what she heard. It included songs by LCD Soundsystem, M83, Grimes, Biggie, Beck and the like. Her subsequent article about this music, ?This Is Every Generically Cool Restaurant?s Playlist,? went viral.

She?d captured the elusive sound of small plate dining. But what left her guessing was why this sound? And how did it reach so many restaurants in cities across the U.S.? She brought this question to Switched On Pop to understand why this 00s mostly indie sound was the ideal background for post-industrial chic establishments.

Investigating the issue, she discovered a small bubble of music selectors who curate these lists for businesses. She spoke with Yvette Bailhache, a D.C. based music selector for restaurants and bars about how these lists are made. And she asked Jonathan Shecter, founder of the Las Vegas based background music service Playback Prodigy, about what makes an ideal background sound. What she discovered is surprising. The sounds in the background may dictate more of our foreground than you?d expect.

Music DiscussedLCD Soundsystem - I Can ChangeM83 - Midnight City Grimes - GenesisIce Cube - It Was A Good DayWu-Tang Clean - CREAMThis Will Destroy You - KitchenListen to Hillary?s Every Restaurant Playlist and for more stories and news on food, subscribe to Eater's podcast Upsell

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The $50M Beat Marketplace That Broke the Billboard

Lil Nas X licensed the beat for ?Old Town Road? from an e-commerce platform. He originally bought a non-exclusive copy of the backing track for just $29.99 from a 19 year old Dutch record producer called YoungKio. And he?s not the first hitmaker to do so. Desiigner, Bryson Tiller and Queen Naija have all made hit songs from internet beats. These beats are big business. The arguable market leader, BeatStars, has paid its producers over $50M since its inception in 2008. The platform allows producers to market their beats to MCs and singers, boasting 340,000 active sellers and 1.5M tracks. BeatStars CEO Abe Batshon originally created the company to connect artists who may not live in the music industry hubs in L.A., N.Y., Nashville and Atlanta. His global ambitions were realized?producers on the platform come from all over the world. They release a steady stream of new music, marketing their original and sound-a-like beats to aspiring and emerging artists everywhere turning into ad music, Instagram stories and even Billboard Hot 100 hits. While BeatStars increases access to music, could this commoditization of music devalue the creative process? We speak with Abe as well as producers on the platform?songwriter Breana Marin and producer Dansonn?to understand how online beat selling is effecting the sound of pop music.

Music Discussed:Lil Nas X - Old Town RoadBryson Tiller - Don?tYBN Nahmir - Rubbin off the PaintDesiigner - Panda?Queen Naija - MedicineCERTIBEATS - MojoBEATDEMONS - NohoBrytiago ft Bad Bunny - NETFLIXXXBreana Marin?s BeatStars pageDansonn?s BeatStars pageListen to ?Bouncing On The Band Stand? by Marian Hill?s Jeremy Loyd (Clear Eyes) and Charlie (Charlatan). You can even license it for $29.99 for your own production.

Vote for Switched On Pop in this year's People's Choice Podcast Awards!

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Shawn Mendes and the Rhythm of Rhyme

Shawn Mendes? hit song ?If I Can?t Have You? is so ridiculously catchy that Charlie had it stuck in his head after the first chorus. How is that possible?! Declamation, or the way that text is set to music, is a big part of the song?s appeal?every word that Mendes sings is perfectly in rhythm. In this episode we use Mendes? latest track to explore creative declamation throughout history. How do artists from Whitney Houston to Queen to Taylor Swift keep finding new ways to sing the word ?somebody?? Why did the composer Georg Friedrich Handel get in trouble for a bit of awkward text setting in one of the most famous pieces of Baroque music? And, does Beyoncé even know how to pronounce ?sandcastles?? Finally, Mendes? hit leads us to ask: is ?incorrect? declamation is something to celebrate, or criticize?

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

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

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

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

Read Dr. Kim's book K-pop Live: Fans Idols, and Multimedia Performance,
Watch Vox's Netflix series Explained on the history of K-pop

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

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

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Jamestown and the Quest to Build a Utopia in America (with Avery Trufelman)

Nice Try! is a new podcast from Curbed and the Vox Media Podcast Network that explores stories of people who have tried to design a better world, and what happens when those designs don't go according to plan. Season one, Utopian, follows Avery Trufelman on her quest to understand the perpetual search for the perfect place. Enjoy this special preview of the first episode, Jamestown: Utopian for Whom, and subscribe to Nice Try! for free in your favorite podcast app.

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

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

Listen to Estelle's Spotify playlist of underwater intros. 

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The Man Behind the Rocketman with Giles Martin

Rocketman is a spectacle the size of Elton John, four films in one. It contains a biopic, jukebox musical, addiction recovery story and a romance between friends. The soundtrack ties the story together by taking historical liberties to tell a fantastical story about one of the best living songwriters. Charlie is joined by Vox?s film critic, Alissa Wilkinson to breakdown the film and deconstruct how its melodic themes create an emotional arc. He also speaks with Giles Martin (son of 5th Beatle George Martin) who music directed the film and soundtrack about how he assembled an entire life?s work into a singular narrative.

Songs Discussed

Taron Egerton - RocketmanQueen - Bohemian RhapsodyTaron Egerton, Jamie Bell - Goodbye Yellow Brick RoadKit Connor & Gemma Jones & Bryce Dallas Howard & Steven Mackintosh - I Want LoveTaron Egerton - Crocodile RockTaron Egerton - Your SongTaron Egerton - Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest WordMozart - Requiem

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The Greatest Pop Stories Never Told (with Jessica Hopper)

On the KRCW series Lost Notes, Jessica Hopper plumbs pop music history for the most important stories never told. She brings us a bevy of lost gems, from Fanny, an all-female quartet of rockers that was one of David Bowie's favorite bands, to the Freeze a late-70s punk outfit now coming to terms with the offensive lyrics of their youth. Tune in to discover another side of pop, one that's rarely been heard. 

Songs Discussed:Fanny - Charity Ball (Live Version)Fanny - Ain't that PeculiarThe Freeze - I Hate TouristsCat Power - The Greatest

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Should You Care About Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber?

A pop star collaboration is a foolproof way to grab the attention of two audiences at once. But do more collaborators actually make a better song? Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber put this question to the test in their new song "I Don't Care." The track takes us inside the head of an antisocial party hopper, who'd rather be back home with his lover. Nate and Charlie investigate how the songwriters works that message into their music and speak with Ross Golan about Ed Sheeran's songwriting brilliance.

Songs Discussed
? Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber - I Don't Care
? Ed Sheeran ? Shape of You
? Justin Bieber ? Love Yourself
? Kygo ft. Ella Henderson ? Here For You
? Maroon 5 ? Don?t Wanna Know

Check out And The Writer Is? With Ross Golan:

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The Smooth Sound of NPR Morning News

What do Bach and smooth jazz have in common? Both score the unmistakable theme song for NPR's flagship show Morning Edition, listened to by millions across the country every day since 1979. This is undeniably pop music, a daily soundtrack to the lives of many. So why does it sound the way it does? And why, after forty years, why does NPR want to change it?


BJ Leiderman - Morning Edition 
Chuck Mangione - Feels So Good
Herbie Hancock - Chameleon
George Benson - Breezin'
Kenny G - Songbird 
Don Voegeli/Wycliffe Gordon - All Things Considered
Take 6 - All Things Considered
Phish - All Things Reconsidered

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Is There An Indie Rock Conspiracy? (Featuring Joywave)

Many people write us with musical maladies and conspiracies. A recent one caught our attention. Daniel Armbruster, lead vocalist of indie band Joywave, has been hearing the same melody in tracks across the Alternative Songs charts. He believes that this hook could be the secret to securing a spot on the Billboard 100. Nate and Charlie investigate this issue, traveling from the contemporary charts all the way back to a fundamental musical scale. The stakes are high: is it possible to hack your way into a hit alt-rock song?

Songs Discussed Young The Giant - SuperpositionCold War Kids - FirstSir Sly - &RunJoywave, KOPPS - TonguesMaroon 5 - Moves Like JaggerLady Gaga - Bad Romance AJR - Burn the House DownTwenty One Pilots - ChlorineThe Black Keys - Lo/HiBillie Eilish - Bury A FriendCatfish and the Bottlemen - LongshotCage The Elephant - Ready To Let GoPanic! At The Disco - High HopesSHAED - TrampolineOliver Tree - HurtThe Lumineers - Ho Hey

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

On her new album, Cuz I Love You, Lizzo shows off her genre bending musicality. We speak with X Ambassadors lead singer, Sam Harris, who helped co-write three songs on the album, including its eponymous track. We discuss how Lizzo's songs glide across sixties soul, seventies rock rock, eighties new wave, and nineties hip-hop. But we find that her music is much more than a history lesson in genre. Lizzo's writes vulnerable and courageous lyrics about self love, body positivity, female empowerment, and black identity. Rather than craft a singular sound for her album, Lizzo utilizes the genre that best fits the message of any given song. Her subversion of genre to the mood of her lyric matches changes in music consumption. According to Chartmetric, more people than ever are listening across genres to context based playlists. Does this mean genre no longer matters? Nate and Charlie try to find out with the help of Lizzo's genre busting music.

Songs DiscussedLizzo - Better In ColorLizzo - Cuz I Love YouLizzo - JuiceLizzo - TempoMissy Elliott - Get Ur Freak OnLizzo - JeromeRadiohead - CreepLed Zeppelin - Royal OrleansPrince - When Doves CryLizzo - Exactly How I Feel (ft. Gucci Mane)Aretha Franklin - RespectAretha Franklin - Say A Little PrayerAretha Franklin - Chain Of FoolsAretha Franklin - I Knew You Were WaitingEurythmics ft. Aretha Franklin - Sisters Are Doin' It For ThemselvesListen to our Lizzo playlist that pairs each song on her new album with a song from the past.

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Taylor Swift Causes a PANIC!

When a listener asked us about the "sorcery" behind Taylor Swift's new song "ME!" we knew we had to investigate. And because the track features Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco, we couldn't resist digging into their concurrent hit "High Hopes." Along the way we cover baby talk, dreamy augmented chords, drumlines, and songs with exclamation points in their titles ? all to explain why you can't get these two out of your head.


Taylor Swift featuring Brendon Urie - ME!
Swift - Shake it Off
Swift - The Way I Loved You
Gustav Mahler - Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder!
Shania Twain - Up!
Panic! At the Disco - High Hopes
Western Carolina University Drumline - High Hopes

Check out two great pieces on "High Hopes," one by Top 40 Theory and the other by Rolling Stone article citing Flypaper's Dean Olivet. 

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Sounds Like Teen Spirit (with Elle Fanning)

Pop is inseparable from reality TV singing competitions. From Eurovision to American Idol, scores of stars got their start in singing competitions. We?ve long overlooked this influence on pop, but were inspired to look into the phenomenon by the release of Teen Spirit, a pop-musical film about a fictional singing competition .

What is the history of these shows? Who got their big break on one? Is there a singing show musical aesthetic? We hit the books and records to find out, and the answers might surprise. Finally we speak with Elle Fanning, who plays contestant Violet in the film, about what it takes to train to be a singer primed for national fame.

Songs DiscussedElle Fanning - Dancing On My OwnFrank Sinatra with The Hoboken Four on the Major Bowes Amateur HourGladys Knight on the Original Amateur HourAbba - WaterlooCeline Dion - Ne Partez Pas Moi Alanis Morisette on Star Search Girls Tyme with Beyoncé on Star SearchKelly Clarkson - A Moment Like ThisWhitney Houston - I Have NothingNina Simone - Feeling GoodJanis Joplin - Piece of My HeartSusan Boyle - I Dreamed A DreamElle Fanning - Don't Kill My Vibe (originally by Sigrid)Recommended listeningMavis Staples - AnytimeAnderson Paak - VenturaThe Beths - Future Me Hates MeMax, Quinn XCII - Love Me LessKhalid, John Mayer - Outta My Head* Correction: Though non-European countries do compete in Eurovision, Canada has not competed in the contest. Celine Dion represented Switzerland in her performance of "Ne Partez Pas Moi Celine" in 1988.

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Lil Nas X: Country at the Crossroads

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

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

On a trajectory to be one of the biggest pop stars for this generation, seventeen year old Billie Eilish is not, however, your typical pop star. Her music speaks to the real anxieties of young people without any veneer. She sings from the perspective of monsters and villains. Her hushed voice, baggy style, and direct demeanor subvert the norms of the pop princess. And her music is dark, but still catchy. Billie co-writes and produces her sound with her older brother Finneas O?Connell. Together this family duo have crafted the second biggest selling album of 2019, ?When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go??  On this episode, we examine how Billie and Finneas crafted a cultural phenomenon, why their message speaks to this generation, and we speak with Finneas about the creation of their hit song ?Bad Guy.?
Songs Featured: Billie Eilish - Ocean EyesBillie Eilish - BoredBillie Eilish - You Should See Me In A CrownBillie Eilish - Bad GuyBillie Eilish - Bury A FriendMarilyn Manson - The Beautiful PeopleThe Doors - People Are StrangeNine Inch Nails - CloserBillie Eilish - ilomiloBillie Eilish - All Good Girls Go To HellBillie Eilish - XannyFrank Sinatra - Dream A DreamBillie Eilish - I love youJohn Carpenter - Halloween ThemeBillie Eilish - Bellyache Watch Billie Eilish and Finneas break down ?Bury A Friend? on The New York Times

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BONUS: Bhi Bhiman's 'Peace of Mind' Episode 1

Switched on Pop is pleased to present Episode 1 of Peace of Mind --
the new album (released as a podcast) by singer/songwriter Bhi Bhiman.
In this episode Bhi digs into the fear and madness that characterizes
so much of this crazy time in America. Guests include author Dave
Eggers, Snap Judgement's Glynn Washington and renowned social
psychologist, Lee Ross. The song for this episode is ?Brother Can You
Spare Some Peace of Mind?? Subscribe to Peace of Mind here:

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Bhi Bhiman Puts the Music Before the Message

Bhi Bhiman joins to explain the "nerd punk rock" behind releasing his new album Peace of Mind with an accompanying podcast. Since Bhiman explores issues like deportation on the track "Beyond the Border," there's a lot to say about each song. Even though he tackles tough topics, Bhiman make sure he puts music before the message. "Beyond the Border" summons a vast range of funky influences, from Van Halen to the Allman Brothers, to ask what America really means.

?Bhi Bhiman:
Beyond the Border,
Moving to Brussels,
Bread and Butter,
There Goes the Neighborhood,

?Van Halen - Jump
?Allman Brothers - Ramblin' Man

Listen to our Spotify playlist of contemporary politically motivated music.

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Comeback Kids: The Jonas Brothers are Back

After a six year hiatus, Nick, Joe, and Kevin Jonas are back with a new single and the stakes couldn't be higher. With each brother attaining a higher plane of celebrity during their time off, the three must achieve pop success or face public humiliation. 

How do they do it? With three ingredients that ensure a hit song in 2019: 1) whistle while you work, 2) Homer the funky drummer, and 3) tune in, turn in, drop out. 

Songs Featured: Jonas Brothers ? SuckerEdward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros ? HomeFlo Rida ? WhistleDaya ? Sit Still Look PrettySharon Jones ? How Long do I Have to Wait for you?Bruno Mars ? 24k MagicEmily King ? Remind MeJason Derulo ? Want to Want MeRina Sawayama ? CherryPost Malone and Swae Lee ? SunflowerSurvey
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Lost & Found: The Drama of Pop Form with Emily King

Live from SXSW: Grammy nominee songwriter Emily King didn?t set out to write a perfect pop song with ?Remind Me.? Instead, she bent the rules of song structure to fit her message: the magical feeling when you find something you?ve been long missing. Mirroring this theme, the chorus doesn?t come when you expect it. The climax arrives late, after an ?aha? moment that fills in the forgotten details. Each instrument fits perfectly together like a lost memory coming into focus. Even after she finds what she?s been missing in her life, she deceived us once again with a diminutive ?down chorus.? At every turn, King shows how songwriting mastery opens up immense creative freedom, even within the constraints of a prototypical pop song.

Featured Songs:Emily King - Remind MeZedd, Maren Morris, Grey - The MiddleSam Smith, Normani - Dancing With A StrangerTaylor Swift - DelicateSurvey
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How Streaming Changed the Sound of Pop

Streaming hasn't just changed the way we listen to music, it's changed the way that pop music sounds. After years of losses due to the death of the CD and the rise of file sharing, the music industry has finally found a profitable business in streaming services. Streaming has overtaken all other music sales. Digital music platforms are the new Virgin megastore. But these services are more than just a distribution mechanism, they have created a whole new music economy. Album sales have been replaced by "album equivalent units," a business fiction that equates 1,500 streams to one physical sale. Artists are now effectively paid by the song. With ad-supported and subscription based business models, these platforms have upended incentives so significantly that it can be heard in the songwriting. Songs are getting shorter, albums are getting longer, and there is an entirely new section of the song that draws from the classical past: the "pop overture." In this episode, Nate and Charlie are joined by Aisha Hassan and Dan Kopf to unpack the sound of pop in the streaming era.  Be sure to check out their article on Quartz: "The Reason Why Your Favorite Pop Songs Are Getting Shorter."

Songs FeaturedLil Pump - I Love ItBenny Blanco - Eastside ft. Khalid & HalseyKodak Black - Calling My SpiritPost Malone - Better NowLeonard Bernstein - West Side Story OvertureDua Lipa - One KissDrake - God?s PlanPost Malone - I Fall ApartAriana Grande - NasaTommy Dorsey - All The Things You Are

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Top 40 Activism with Justin Tranter

Can political protest exist within the confines of commercial popular music? Songwriter Justin Tranter is equal parts songwriter and activist. You've likely heard his contributions to songs by Britney Spears, Julia Michaels, Selena Gomez, Janelle Monae and Ariana Grande, but unless you were paying close attention, you may have missed the essential subtext in his work. As an LGBTQ activist and board member of GLAAD, Justin brings his activism into Top 40 pop music lyrically and otherwise. On this episode, he breaks down his newest hit "Swan Song" which was co-written with Dua Lipa. This song is a triple threat serving as the end credits for the film Alita: Battle Angel, a Billboard hit, and a protest against the silencing of marginalized people. Justin shows us how representation in songwriting is inseparable from politics. And he's creating an open mic for new voices and stories that have been historically ignored by the pop industry.

Songs Discussed:

Dua Lipa - "Swan Song"Charlie Puth - "Attention"Selena Gomez - "Good For You"Imagine Dragons - "Believer"Taylor Swift - "Love Story"Halsey - "Bad At Love"Haydn - "Farewell" Symphony No. 45Shea Diamond - "Seen It All"
Listen to D. Orxata's Queering Pop Music playlist.

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What Makes An Award Winning Song?

What if music awards were given out for only musical qualities? It may seem like celebrity and spectacle are more important than ever at the 61st Grammy Awards, but we believe many of this years winners earned their accolades with noteworthy music. Still, we thought the winners should be heralded by new, more musical categories. Find out how

And The Awards Go To:
Best Chord Progression: H.E.R. - "Hard Place" & "Focus"
Best Throwback: Silk City & Dua Lipa ft. Diplo & Mark Ronson - "Electricity"
Worst Metaphor: Lady Gaga ft. Bradley Cooper "Shallow"
Best Conceptual Song: Childish Gambino - "This Is America"
Best Bridge: Kacey Musgraves - "Rainbow"

Also Featured
The Weeknd - "Often"
Khalid - "Location"
Alison Limerick - "Where Love Lives"
Cher - "Strong Enough"
Elton John - "Mellow"

Listen to Ezra Klein's discussion with Jill Lepore on America's two revolutions

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What Makes a Song Sexy?

Author Courtney Smith joins to offer her expertise on an urgent topic in advance of Valentine's Day: Can we abstract the sexiest songs of all time into a universal list of arousing musical qualities? We try our best by examining five decades of pop sexiness, discovering lyrical lingerie, and consider the most (and least) seductive instruments.


Nina Simone - I Want Some Sugar in My Bowl
Donna Summer - Love to Love You Baby
INXS - Need You Tonight
Portishead - Glory Box
Kings of Leon - Sex on Fire
The Weeknd - Often

Check out Courtney's article Let's Talk About Sex, Baby: Every Trick You Need to Seduce Someone with a Playlist on Refinery29

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The Deep History of '7 Rings'

"7 Rings" is Ariana Grande's latest smash, a glittering banger that owes much to Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1959 classic "My Favorite Things." 60 years later, Grande updates the track for a modern audience, making her the latest artist to repurpose this anthem from the "Sound of Music." When it comes to Ari's flow, however, questions of appropriation arise. Author Lauren Michele Jackson joins to break down who has the right to repurpose sonic history.

? Ariana Grande - 7 Rings
? Julie Andrews - My Favorite Things
? John Coltrane - My Favorite Things
? The Doors - Light My Fire
? Lauryn Hill - Black Rage
? Migos - Bad and Boujee
? Princess Nokia - Mine
? Two Chainz - Spend It
? Soulja Boy - Pretty Boy Swag

Check out Lauren Michele Jackson's article, "To Whom Does '7 Rings' Owe its Sound?," hear more connections between Coltrane and the Doors in this NPR story, and discover the triplet Migos flow on Vox's Earworm.

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Do You Believe in Life After Autotune?

Auto-Tune may be the most divisive effect in music. Artists have protested it publicly at the Grammys, and critics have derided the effects for its inauthentic reproduction of the voice. And yet, nearly a decade since Jay-Z prophesied the death of Auto-Tune, the sound is alive and thriving in contemporary pop and hip-hop. Journalist Simon Reynolds has written a definitive history of Auto-Tune for Pitchfork that fundamentally changed how we hear this sound. This deep dive criss crosses geology, technology, and the evolution of pop as we know it.

Songs Discussed:Cher - BelieveKaty Perry - FireworkRihanna - DiamondsFuture - F*ck Up Some CommasEmma Robinson - Stay (Cover) Imogen Heap - Hide And Seek Zapp & Roger - Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing) T. Pain - Chopped N Screwed ft. Ludacris Lil Wayne - ?How To Love?Kanye - ?Heartless?The Black Eyed Peas ?Boom Boom Pow?Jay-Z - Death Of Auto-TuneElvis - Mystery TrainThe Beatles - Tomorrow Never KnowsWhispering Jack Smith - Baby FaceKesha - Tik Tok Bon Iver - WoodsFuture & Juice WRLD - Jet Lag ft. Young Scooter Shek Wes - Mo BambaThe Carters - Apeshit
Further Reading:Simon Reynolds - ?How Auto-Tune Revolutionized the Sound of Popular Music" Simon Reynolds -Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture 

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Slay Bells, All Year Long

This winter season unwrap a deep dive through a pop subgenre of monumental importance: non-holiday songs that feature sleigh bells, from Bonnie Tyler to Nas, On Side B, we rebroadcast our episode on Mariah Carey's classic "All I Want for Christmas Is You"...and more sleigh bells. 

?The Beach Boys - God Only Knows
?Gustav Mahler - 4th Symphony, I
?Michael Jackson - Jam
?Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the Heart 
?Miles Davis - On the Corner
?Nas - Halftime
?Kygo ft. Conrad Sewell - Firestone
?Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas Is You

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Look What You Made Us Do

Four years into Switched On Pop, Charlie and Nate finally reveal what was behind the entire series. We may have not been totally honest with you from the beginning. Back in 2014 we were more pop skeptics than fanatics. The genre was, to some degree, the sugar that made the musical analysis medicine go down. And then something happened. Just as people started to listen to the show, we too began to open our ears. Now, in our 100th episode, Charlie interviews Nate about how transforming the way you listen to pop can truly make life better. And we get raw about the constraints of pop and where we plan to go in our next 100 episodes.

Songs discussed:

Beethoven's 7 & 9Santana - "Smooth" Martha and the Vandellas - "Heat Wave" Zedd - "Stay" Pink Floyd - "The Great Gig in the Sky" Adelle - "Hello" 

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Entering Beard Phase with Mike Posner

Mike Posner has written hits for himself like "I Took a Pill in Ibiza," and for stars from Justin Bieber ("Boyfriend") to Maroon 5 ("Sugar"), so he has insights for days on what makes a pop song work.

We dig into Mike's excellent new track "Song About You," which leads to an exploration of songs that reuse the same melody for verse and chorus?from Prince to The Boss to Post Malone. Last, we consider "beard phase": a moment of artistic reinvention that every artist has in their career, whether you're Mike Posner, Ludwig van Beethoven, or Taylor Swift.


Mike Posner - Song About You
Jean Ritchie - Barbary Allen
Original Sacred Harp Singers - New Britain (Amazing Grace)
Prince - I Wanna Be Your Lover
Prince - Let's Go Crazy
Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A.
Post Malone - Rockstar
Beethoven - String Quartet No 1 Op. 18/1
Beethoven - String Quartet No 10 Op. 74/III
Beethoven - String Quartet "Grosse Fuge"
Taylor Swift - Teardrops on My Guitar
Taylor Swift - We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
Taylor Swift - ...Ready For It?
Beatles - Strawberry Fields Forever
Dennis Wilson - River Song
Peaches ft. Iggy Pop - Kick It 

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How Dirty Projectors Make You Feel Energy (with David Longstreth)

Dirty Projectors are known for their kaleidoscopic soundscapes. They make strange bedfellows of  music techniques like 14th vocal harmonies and African guitar rhythms. But in the backdrop of their obscure orchestrations you will hear the indelible marks of pop music. Longstreth has recently collaborated on songs with Solange, Rihanna, Kanye and Paul McCartney. On his new track "I Feel Energy" we can hear that pop influence shine through. Together we break down his unpredictable 808s to see what gives you energy. We also build connections between Dirty Projectors and other artists in the top 100 including Marshmello, Ella Mai and Khalid.

Songs Featured:Dirty Projectors - I Feel EnergyDirty Projectors - Up In HudsonMarshmello ft. Bastille - HappierElla Mai - TripKhalid - Better

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Stairway To Hell: Greta Van Fleet?s Scorching Album Review That Went Viral

Classic rock climaxed a half century ago, yet it still survives in two places: FM radio & Greta Van Fleet. The later are an upstart of four boys from Michigan who have found stardom by dusting off the mantle of guitar driven rock. Their latest album, Anthem Of The Peaceful Army, bares an uncanny sonic resemblance to Led Zeppelin. Jeremy D. Larson, senior editor of Pitchfork, gave the album a 1.6 out of 10 calling it "stiff, hackneyed, overly precious retro-fetishism." His vicious and hilarious takedown went viral and caused a rift amongst music fans on the internet. We ask Jeremy to join us to reveal what it means to earn such a bad review. After, we do something we've never done before: a track-by-track album breakdown. In a game of musical Pictionary, Charlie challenges Nate to find every Led Zeppelin reference on the album to answer the question: is it a copy or an homage? We have a feeling this will be a divisive episode...

Songs Discussed:
Greta Van Fleet - Age of Man
Led Zeppelin - Rain Song
Led Zeppelin - In The Light
Led Zeppelin - What Is And What Should Never Be
Led Zeppelin - Your Time Is Gonna Come
Led Zeppelin - Immigrant Song
Led Zeppelin - Kashmir
Greta Van Fleet - The Cold Wind
Led Zeppelin - Custard Pie
Greta Van Fleet - When the Curtain Falls
Led Zeppelin - Wanton Song
Greta Van Fleet - Watching Over
Led Zeppelin - Since I've Been Loving You
Greta Van Fleet - Lover, Leaver
Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love
Spirit - Taurus
Muddy Waters - You Need Love
Small Faces - You Need Love
Willie Dixon - I Can't Quit You Babe
Greta Van Fleet - You're the One
Led Zeppelin - What Is And What Should Never Be
Greta Van Fleet - The New Day
Led Zeppelin - Over The Hills And Far Away
Greta Van Fleet - Mountain of the Sun
Led Zeppelin - Celebration Day
Greta Van Fleet - Brave New World
Led Zeppelin - Achilles Last Stand
Greta Van Fleet - Anthem
Led Zeppelin - Tangerine
Lover Leaver (Taker, Believer)

Read the Pitchfork review of Greta Van Fleet's Anthem Of A Peaceful Army

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Charli XCX and Troye Sivan Love the 90s

Charli XCX and Troye Sivan conjure late 90s nostalgia in their latest banger. "1999" drips with lyrical nostalgia for the last decade of the millennium ? but does the music follow suit? We think the pair are missing prime opportunities to bring back some neglected musical tricks from the early oeuvre of Britney Spears.

The 90s bug goes beyond Charli and Troye. Anne-Marie and Lauren Alaina also pine for the Clinton era in their millennial bops. Which makes one ask: is the present so bad that we miss the paranoia of Y2K? As usual, Prince has the answer.


Charli XCX ft Troye Sivan - 1999
DJ Bobo - Somebody Dance with Me
Real McCoy - Another Night
Paradisio - Bailando
Britney Spears - ...Baby One More Time
Britney Spears - Oops! I Did it Again
Anne-Marie - 2002
Lauren Alaina - Ladies in the 90s
Prince - 1999

Check out Megan Lavengood's examples of the complementary chorus.

Marshall Jefferson's "Move Your Body" from 1986 might be the ur-source of the ubiquitous 90s house piano. Jefferson recorded the original in his Chicago prophet on a Prophet 2000, but never got the rights to the song and saw little proceeds from its success. 

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Sicko Rap and Drunk Country

Four songs on the Hot 100 pop chart reveal the new directions in which music is headed. Travis Scott's "Sicko Mode" boasts an unprecedented formal structure that points to the future of hip hop. Meanwhile, in the world of country, Jason Aldean, Mitchell Tenpenny, and Dan + Shay are putting a modern spin on one of the style's oldest tropes: drinking bourbon. Together these tracks make up the vanguard of their respective genres, but are fans willing to take the plunge?

Travis Scott - Sicko Mode
Skrillex - Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites
John Zorn - Cat o Nine Tails
Jason Aldean ft Miranda Lambert - Drowns the Whiskey
Mitchell Tenpenny - Drunk Me
Adele - Hello
Justin Bieber - Sorry
Dan + Shay - Tequila

Recommend Reading: Kathryn Schulz on Chris Janson's "Drunk Girl"
Recommended Viewing: Rich Redmond's studio drumming

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The Side Effects of Pop Music with Emily Warren

Emily Warren is one of the great rising stars of contemporary songwriting. Her song "Side Effects" with The Chainsmokers is currently rising up the charts. You?ve also heard her writing on Dua Lipa?s "New Rules." She?s collaborated with many of the best performers in music earning her a Grammy and multi-platinum success with ?Don?t Let Me Down.? She's also recently released her single "Paranoid." Emily is a real songwriters songwriter. Her process is as much therapy as art. Together we break down her latest work and uncover her creative process. Her album "Quiet Your Mind" is out on October 5th.

Songs discussedThe Chainsmokers - Side EffectsBach - Prelude in F# Minor from the Well Tempered ClavierEmily Warren - Paranoidbülow - You & JenniferTeyana Taylor - Gonna Love MeNick Jonas - Touch

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Drake vs Drake

Drake, per usual, has been inescapable this summer. "In My Feelings" and "Nice For What" top the charts, but there's depth to these bangers. We argue for hearing one as a meditation on fragile masculinity, the other as a paean to NOLA Bounce.

Continue the conversation with us on Instagram and Twitter: @SwitchedOnPop

Songs discussed:Drake - In My FeelingsDrake - Nice For WhatLauryn Hill - Ex FactorThe Showboys - Drag Rap (Triggaman)Cameron Paul - Brown BeatCheeky Blakk - Let Me Get That OutchaBeyonce ft. Big Freedia - FormationBig Freedia - Karaoke ft Lizzo

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Summer Heat of the 2000s: Beyoncé and Black Eyed Peas (Pt. II)

The final episode of our Switched on Summer throwback series finds us deconstructing more early aughts bangers.

Under consideration: two of the biggest hits since Y2K, Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" and the Black Eyed Peas' "I Got a Feeling." Tune in to dig how these tracks keeps the temperature rising through harmonic suspension, and to ask if cribbed "Chopsticks."

Switched On Summer Winner: Slow Dance
Congrats to Slow Dance for winning our Switched On Summer contest with their song "I'm Your Guy Tonight." Listen to the whole track here:

You can get all of our song of summer chord loops, song packs and listen to the awesome entires to our Splice Firestarter competition on <a href="">Splice</a> here:

Songs Discussed:
? Beyoncé - Crazy in Love
? The Chi-lites - Are You My Woman
? Jay Z - 99 Problems 
? Black Eyed Peas - I Got a Feeling

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Summer Heat of the 2000s: Nelly + Katy Perry (Pt. 1)

What made summer jams of the aughties like Nelly's "Hot in Herre" and Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" so hot? The answer: big, sweaty, doses of harmonic tension. Specifically, each track relies on the Baroque technique of the ground bass. Wait, we mean: the Baroque technique of PEDAL POINT!  When the chords in these songs don't match up with their bass notes, the ratcheting tension adds heat?fueling both dance moves, and controversy.

Nelly - Hot in Herre
Katy Perry - I Kissed a Girl
Katy Perry - Teenage Dream

All summer Switched On Pop & Splice have been diving into the DNA of summer hits, and now we want you to show us what you?ve learned. Get inspired by sound packs and chord progressions created by Switched on Pop and share your best song of summer with us and the world. Hosts Nate & Charlie will be listening and will choose their favorite submission to win a year of Splice Sounds and have their track played on the podcast.

Check out all the details at
And, read Owen Pallett's excellent article on the use of harmonic tension in Teenage Dream.

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Why is 90s Pop so Bizarre?

The Switched on Pop Summer Throwback Series continues! This time, with a deep dive into the musical detritus of the 1990s.

In true 90s fashion, our episode is inspired by a pair of classic VH1 shows; "Behind the Music" and "Where Are They Now?"

Our subjects are two songs representing the lunatic fringe of 90s culture, "Cotton Eyed Joe" and "How Bizarre."

In the course of our musicological investigation, we uncover dark truths about these seemingly anodyne hits that will make you question everything you know about pop music.

And in the end, we reach a definitive answer to a perennially vexing question: "WTF was 90s music so weird?"

Songs Discussed

Cotton Eye Joe
Pop in an Oak
The Way I Mate

Cotton Eyed Joe:
Fiddlin John Carson
Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys
Karen Dalton
Nina Simone 

How Bizarre
Right ON

Start making your summer hit track on Splice and check out our chord pack at

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The Resistance is Dancing in the Streets

Our Switched on Summer Throwback Series continues with "Dancing in the Street," the 1964 Motown hit by Martha and the Vandellas that was co-written by none other than Marvin Gaye.

Over 50 years and countless covers later, we explore how this song still manages to get people off their feet and onto the streets?not just to dance, but also to raise their voices in joy, catharsis, and protest.

Also, start making your own summer hits with our Switched On Summer repack on Splice at and use promo code ONPOP for a 1 month free trial.

Featuring:Martha and the Vandellas - Dancing in the StreetMarvin Gaye - Stubborn Kind of FellowThe Mamas and the Papas - Dancing in the StreetThe Grateful Dead - Dancing in the StreetVan Halen - Dancing in the StreetMick Jagger and David Bowie - Dancing in the StreetKendrick Lamar - AlrightPharrell Williams - Happy

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