268 episodes

Best Arts & Culture podcast Webby 2020 winner about the making and meaning of popular music. Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work magic on our ears & our culture. From Vulture and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

Switched on Pop Vulture

    • Music
    • 4.6 • 156 Ratings

Best Arts & Culture podcast Webby 2020 winner about the making and meaning of popular music. Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work magic on our ears & our culture. From Vulture and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    The Weeknd drives through purgatory (with a little help from Jim Carrey)

    The Weeknd drives through purgatory (with a little help from Jim Carrey)

    Dawn FM is The Weeknd’s most narratively compelling album yet. More than just a collection of eighties-nostalgia single bait, Dawn FM is a concept album that picks up on a multi-year meta narrative. Abel Tesfaye, seemingly killed off his character at the end of his last album, After Hours. Getting caught up in the “Blinding Lights” of fame and excess, the narrator ends up overdosing in the back of an ambulance. On the final song “Until I Bleed Out” he sings “I can’t move, I’m so paralyzed.” Dawn FM picks up where After Hours left off. The album opens with pastoral winds and bird sounds, with The Weeknd driving down the road searching for a light at the end of a tunnel. His radio is turned to a fictional radio station: 103.5 Dawn FM hosted by The Weeknd’s real life neighbor, the actor Jim Carrey. Channeled through the Vaporwave inspired production of Oneohtrixpoint Never, Dawn FM is the sound of purgatory.
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    • 37 min
    Why do new Christmas songs fail?

    Why do new Christmas songs fail?

    Why are there no new Christmas songs? One one hand, there's more holiday songs than we’ll ever need. Every year pop stars drop countless holiday-themed album.

    But despite the annual glut of Christmas releases, few of these new songs join the rotation of holiday classics. On Billboard's Holiday Hot 100 chart right now, there's only four songs from the past ten years that have made it to the top fifty.

    We listen to each of these holiday hits—from Kelly Clarkson, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and the Jonas Brothers—and and ask if these songs can go the distance and become the 21st century members of the Christmas music canon.

    Songs Discussed - Playlist
    Kelly Clarkson - Underneath the Tree
    Ariana Grande - Santa Tell Me
    Justin Bieber - Mistletoe
    Jonas Brothers - Like It's Christmas
    The Bird and the Bee - You and I at Christmas Time
    Loretta Lynn - White Christmas Blue
    Woody Goss - One for One
    Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - 8 Days of Hannukah
    Jenny Owen Youngs, Tancred, John Mark Nelson - Fireside
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    • 26 min
    Tai Verdes TikTok-ed his way to a breakout hit

    Tai Verdes TikTok-ed his way to a breakout hit

    Whether you’re a TikTok fanatic, or the app’s K-hole-inducing stream of content has forced you to delete it from your phone, its influence on music is undeniable. In 2020 the platform bragged that over 70 artists on the platform signed with major labels. TikTok’s success was linked to pandemic-related stay-at-home orders -- people were stuck at home and musicians couldn’t tour. And while trending dances and songs on TikTok may turn over weekly, with a billion monthly users, the social media platform has industry power. In 2021, Billboard’s Hot 100 was overflowing with TikTok hits -- over 175 according to the company -- more than twice that of last year. 
    While major artists like J Balvin and Taylor Swift use the platform, TikTok’s algorithm is surprisingly good at exposing aspiring artists. Take Tai Verdes for example. While working his day job at the Verizon store. Ty set his mind on using TikTok to launch his musical career. When he released a video singing his song “Stuck In The Middle” in his Prius, millions saw him for the first time. Tai’s music has since been heard at Lollapalooza and on Top 40 radio. But like so many overnight successes, he built it up over years of practice and creative releases. If you want to know how social media has fundamentally changed music, you need to hear Tai’s Verdes tell his story to Switched On Pop’s Charlie Harding.
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    • 31 min
    Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raise The Roof

    Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raise The Roof

    Robert Plant is in his own words “cold” and “prickly” while speaking about his new album with Alison Krauss, Raise The Roof. First thing upon joining the Zoom call from London, Plant jovially launches into the much misattributed quote “talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” But he is neither callous, nor coy. For Plant the music is ineffable, a joyous celebration of friendship, and a kindred love of song that he shares with Krauss and producer T-Bone Burnett. Their album follows up from their 2007 Grammy award winning album Raising Sand. Both albums are steeped in americana and roots music, favorites that the trio traded across the Atlantic over many years of friendship. There are few hints of Plant’s Led Zeppelin or Krauss’ Union Station. Instead their collaboration sounds timeless, haunting and melancholic. Their idiosyncratic sound emerged from an entirely organic process, a method that both parties are happy to share, but reticent to analyze. Switched On Pop’s co-host Charlie Harding spoke with Plant and Krauss about the making of Raise The Roof.
    

    SONGS DISCUSSED - Spotify Playlist

    Robert Plant, Alison Krauss - Quattro (World Drifts In), The Price of Love, Go Your Own Way, Trouble With My Love, Can’t Let Go, It Don’t Bother Me, You Led Me To The Wrong, Last Kind Words Blues, High and Lonesome, Going Where The Lonely Go, Somebody Was Watching Over Me

    Calexico - Quattro (World Drifts In)

    The Everly Brothers - The Price of Love

    Anne Briggs - Go Your Own Way

    Bert Jansch - Go Your Own Way

    Sandy Denny - Go Your Own Way

    Led Zeppelin - The Battle of Evermore

    Betty Harris - Trouble With My Love

    Lucinda Williams - Can’t Let Go

    Bert Jansch - It Don’t Bother Me

    Ola Belle Reed - You Led Me To The Wrong

    Geeshie Wiley - Last Kind Words Blues 

    Merle Haggard - Going Where The Lonely Go

    Pops Staples - Somebody Was Watching 


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    • 31 min
    The Beatles get back to their roots

    The Beatles get back to their roots

    2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ final album, Let it Be. To commemorate the occasion, the remaining members of the band have remixed the album and unleashed an eight-hour-plus documentary directed by Peter Jackson that lays bare the making of the record. For super-fans this video memoir reveals a lot about the messiness of the creative process: The Beatles nearly broke up while making it! Author Tim Riley says that the band approached Let It Be with an aesthetic challenge: to get back to playing as a live band. But the original release of the album deviated from that mission and received mixed reviews. Over the decades, The Beatles have revisited this work with multiple mixes and alternative takes that try to show the original spirit of this direct-to-tape, live album. Charlie and Nate listen back, warts and all, to get to the heart of this enigmatic project.

    Songs Discussed
    The Beatles - I Saw Her Standing There, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Strawberry Fields, Dig A Pony, Good Golly Miss Molly, I’ve Got A Feeling, One After 909, Get Back, Two Of Us, The Long & Winding Road, Let It Be, I Me Mine
    Little Richard - Tutti Frutti

    More
    Read Tim Riley's works on The Beatles
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    • 40 min
    Taylor, Adele & Silk Sonic’s broken hearts club

    Taylor, Adele & Silk Sonic’s broken hearts club

    This week we are having a blast feeling really sad. Guest Brittany Luse, cohost of the acclaimed podcast For Colored Nerds, joins Nate and Charlie to dig into this fall's slate of breathtaking breakup albums from Adele, Kacey Musgraves, Summer Walker, and Mitski.

    Some have been calling this confluence of releases, "sad girl autumn," but the melancholy moment goes beyond gender, with even Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak's leaning into the lachrymose on their album An Evening With Silk Sonic.

    On top of all this, Taylor Swift has stormed the charts with her re-recording of her hit album Red and the ten-minute version of fan-favorite breakup song "All Too Well."

    We take the opportunity to mine this gold rush of emotions and diagnose every type of heartbreak on the radio dial.

    Songs discussed:
    Taylor Swift - All Too Well (Taylor's Version)
    Summer Walker - Throw it Away
    Silk Sonic - Put On a Smile
    Adele - Easy On Me
    Mitski - The Only Heartbreaker
    Kacey Musgraves - Justified

    More
    Listen to Brittany's podcast For Colored Nerds
    Watch Guy Winch's talk How To Fix a Broken Heart
    Weep along to our playlist of breakup albums
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    • 41 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
156 Ratings

156 Ratings

marama8 ,

Excellent Podcast

Excellent podcast! - has made me view pop music and music that’s in the charts in a completely different way- highly recommended!

mmlabbd ,

VOX Media have ruined this podcast

Switched on Pop used to be one of my favourite podcasts, the hosts Charlie
and Nate are extremely knowledgable, I even bought their book which is great and I still rate them as hosts highly.
However since VOX have taken over it’s gone from a couple of friends talking broadly about pop music to a show that is straining to be the hippest kid in town. They have so many interviews now with artists that have to be the trendiest and most current and it’s all so heavily scripted now. Very little fun to be had, it seems the edict from Vox is that this has to be a serious and extremely current podcast.
Do yourself a favour and listen to the older episodes they are a much better listen. I couldn’t imagine we’ll ever get a mini series like “The Fifth” ever again under their current management.

EarWeGoAgain ,

Insightful and fun

One of the best music podcasts out there.

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