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Switched on Pop

Nate Sloan & Charlie Harding

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Switched on Pop
Switched on Pop

Switched on Pop

Nate Sloan & Charlie Harding

504
Followers
887
Plays
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About Us

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.

Latest Episodes

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 ...

55 MIN5 days ago
Comments
Chance The Rapper, Kehlani, & The Shifting Sound of R&B — with Oak Felder

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 Africanplaylist recommendationsLeave us a voicemail about your favorite songs of summer: 385-626-6179Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

39 MIN1 weeks ago
Comments
Beyoncé's Gift To Africa (with Ivie Ani)

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, ...

35 MIN2 weeks ago
Comments
LCD Soundsystem and the Unbearable Sameness of Restaurant Playlists

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...

31 MIN3 weeks ago
Comments
The $50M Beat Marketplace That Broke the Billboard

Shawn Mendes and the Rhythm of Rhyme

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

33 MINJUL 16
Comments
Shawn Mendes and the Rhythm of Rhyme

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

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

59 MINJUL 9
Comments
Space, The Final Frontier: Madonna, Stephen Puth and Street Studios

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-popLearn more about y...

40 MINJUL 2
Comments
What BTS's "Boy With Love" ft. Halsey Can Teach Us About K-pop

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

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

30 MINJUN 25
Comments
"Prince Ali" and Why We're All Music Theorists

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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

23 MINJUN 23
Comments
Jamestown and the Quest to Build a Utopia in America (with Avery Trufelman)

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

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

26 MINJUN 18
Comments
Why Does Every Intro Sound Like It's Underwater? (Live)

Latest Episodes

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 ...

55 MIN5 days ago
Comments
Chance The Rapper, Kehlani, & The Shifting Sound of R&B — with Oak Felder

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 Africanplaylist recommendationsLeave us a voicemail about your favorite songs of summer: 385-626-6179Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

39 MIN1 weeks ago
Comments
Beyoncé's Gift To Africa (with Ivie Ani)

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, ...

35 MIN2 weeks ago
Comments
LCD Soundsystem and the Unbearable Sameness of Restaurant Playlists

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...

31 MIN3 weeks ago
Comments
The $50M Beat Marketplace That Broke the Billboard

Shawn Mendes and the Rhythm of Rhyme

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

33 MINJUL 16
Comments
Shawn Mendes and the Rhythm of Rhyme

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

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

59 MINJUL 9
Comments
Space, The Final Frontier: Madonna, Stephen Puth and Street Studios

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-popLearn more about y...

40 MINJUL 2
Comments
What BTS's "Boy With Love" ft. Halsey Can Teach Us About K-pop

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

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

30 MINJUN 25
Comments
"Prince Ali" and Why We're All Music Theorists

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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

23 MINJUN 23
Comments
Jamestown and the Quest to Build a Utopia in America (with Avery Trufelman)

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

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

26 MINJUN 18
Comments
Why Does Every Intro Sound Like It's Underwater? (Live)

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