160 episodes

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.

Switched on Pop Vox

    • Music Commentary

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.

    Look At Selena Gomez Now with Justin Tranter & Ian Kirkpatrick

    Look At Selena Gomez Now with Justin Tranter & Ian Kirkpatrick

    Selena Gomez has her first #1 song on the Hot 100. “Lose You To Love Me” is a confessional look at her past five years of heartbreak and health challenges. By contrast, her single “Look At Her Now” is a testament to moving on and moving up. Each of these songs inhabits a different musical and lyrical world and we were lucky to get to speak with her collaborators on the songs to take us behind the scenes of how they came to be. Justin Tranter and Ian Kirkpatrick are two of today’s most in-demand writers. They walk us through how Selena takes her personal emotions and translates them into public catharsis on her album “Rare.”
    Songs Discussed

    Selena Gomez - Vulnerable, Lose You To Love Me, Look At Her Now

    Crash Test Dummies - Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmmm

    Dua Lipa - New Rules


    More
    Watch Selena Gomez interviewed by Zane Lowe on Beats One.
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    • 37 min
    Five Directions: How do the solo efforts of One Direction stack up?

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

    The boy band One Direction has been on hiatus for nearly five years, yet only now have all of the members of the group released a solo album. But how do these efforts from Niall, Liam, Harry, Louis and Zayn stack up? Vox Writer (and One Direction fan) Alexa Lee compares albums as a challenge for each member to rise to their greatest artistic potential.

    SONGS DISCUSSED

    Zayn - Let Me

    Zayn - Entertainer

    Niall Horan - Nice To Meet You

    Niall Horan - Put A Little Love On Me

    Liam Payne - Strip That Down

    Liam Payne - Hips Don't Lie

    Louis Tomlinson - Walls

    Louis Tomlinson - Kill My Mind

    Harry Styles - Adore You

    Harry Styles - Watermelon Sugar

    Harry Styles - Cherry


    MORE
    Read Alexa’s piece “2 winners and 3 losers from One Direction’s solo albums”
    Listen to Nate convince Charlie to love One Direction in an early episode of Switched On Pop
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    • 36 min
    Post Malone has us Running in Circles

    Post Malone has us Running in Circles

    Post Malone has confounded your hosts since he emerged on the scene, so this week we sit down to try and get to the bottom of our cycles of attraction and repulsion through deep analysis of his current hit, "Circles." Along the way, we discuss trenchant questions such as: How is the minor IV always the saddest of all chords? Why does Posty tend to sound like a certain ruminant mammal? And, what happens when you plug Tchaikovsky into a Wu Tang name generator?
    Songs Discussed:

    Post Malone - Circles, Rockstar, Stay, Congratulations, Candy Paint,

    Fleetwood Mac - Landslide

    Tchaikovsky - Symphony No 6, Finale


    And don't forget to enter the Wu Tang Name Generator
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    • 40 min
    Hopes and Fears of Mac Miller, Future, Drake, and Billie Eilish

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

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

    Dua Lipa’s Disco Fever

    Dua Lipa remembers the disco era in her hit “Don’t Start Now.” What may sound like just another dance floor track, upon deeper listening unfolds as a celebration of the genre. References to Gloria Gaynor, Chic, Giorgio Moroder and The Bee Gees are all waiting here for the curious listener to uncover. But so are the Italian and Daft Punk inspired bass lines. Yet the song is more than just one big disco ball cliché. It is brilliantly written too. We asked our listeners to help us highlight the best moments of the song as this is a song that continues to sound anew upon each playback. In 2020, the influence of Disco is still very much alive and Dua Lip’s “Don’t Start Now,” written with Caroline Ailin, Emily Warren and Ian Kirkpatrick, is a shining example of a great contemporary disco track. 
    Songs Discussed

    Dua Lipa - Don’t Start Now

    Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive

    Chic - Good Times

    Giorgio Mordoer - Baby Blue

    The Bee Gees - You Should Be Dancing

    The Michael Zager Band - Let’s All Chant

    MFSP - TSOP

    Todd Terje - Strandbar Piano

    Fred Falke and Alan Brav - Intro

    Daft Punk - Voyager

    Ryan Paris - Dolce Vita

    Madison Avenue - Don’t Call Me Baby

    Marvin Gaye - Got To Give It Up


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

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

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

    For an in depth history of R&B on Billboard, read Chris Molanphy's feature on Pitchfork.
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    • 55 min

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