176 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
    • 4.1, 8 Ratings

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.

    Carly Rae Jepsen: Meeting The Muse

    Carly Rae Jepsen: Meeting The Muse

    They say you should never meet your idols, that you’ll only be disappointed. We had this possibility in mind going into our first interview with Carly Rae Jepsen, the pop star who inspired us to start our podcast Switched on Pop when Nate taught “Call Me Maybe” as a case study in music theory. Six years later and hundreds of pleading emails later, the time had come to meet the muse and unpack her latest offering, Dedicated Side B. In the course of composing her last two albums, E•MO•TION and Dedicated, Jepsen wrote over 200 songs. Many of her favorite works didn’t make it on either final album, so she’s started a tradition of releasing “Side B” records on the one-year anniversary of her last release. Her newest collection of unreleased music fluidly crosses decades of musical history and spans a vast emotional range. We spoke with Jepsen over Zoom about how she curated her latest B-Side release from a massive body of work. Would this beatific figure, once described by poet Hanif Abdurraqib and the “most honest pop musician working,” live up to her reputation? Listen to find out.

    SONGS DISCUSSED

    Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe, Julien, Party For One, Now That I’ve Found You, No Drug Like Me, Want You In My Room, Cut To The Feeling, Run Away With Me, Window, This Love Isn’t Crazy, Solo

    Squeeze - Tempted By The Fruit

    Irving Berlin - God Bless America performed by Kate Smith


    Vulfpeck - Back Pocket


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    • 42 min
    Why lo-fi is the perfect background music

    Why lo-fi is the perfect background music

    Lo-Fi hip-hop has emerged as a hugely popular genre and internet subculture. Its millions of loyal fans rely on curated lo-fi playlists and live-streams to write to, study to and even fall asleep to. Heck, we even wrote a good chunk of our book to Spotify’s lo-fi beats playlists. There’s just something about those ambient, spacey, plodding beats that place us in a state of determined zen. But what of its musical roots? Who are its stars? And why, despite its mass following on YouTube, Spotify and elsewhere, is it nearly impossible to spot on the Billboard? We trace lo-fi from its godfathers to its moments in the sun, to the complex creative ecosystem playing out on streaming platforms today.

    MORE
    You can find music from this episode on this week’s Spotify playlist
    Sign up for Cherie Hu’s newsletter Water & Music that sent us down the lo-fi hip hop rabbit hole
    Check out Seneca B on Spotify:
    Check out weird inside on Spotify
    Check out eevee on Spotify

    SONGS DISCUSSED
    Brenky - Bye
    Brenky - People
    J Dilla ft. Common, D’Angelo - So Far To Go
    Isley Brothers - Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time For Love), Pts. 1&2
    Charlatan - Wasted Jazz
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    • 37 min
    Eurovision Lives! (with Netta)

    Eurovision Lives! (with Netta)

    Like many events, the international song competition Eurovision 2020 has been canceled. Sadly, there will be no champion crowned this year... or will there?! Charlie and Nate comb through the emotional, the catchy, and the downright bizarre entries, then—with some help from our audience and 2018 Eurovision winner Netta—pick the best song in all the land. Come for the Lithuanian moose dance, stay for the unshakeable power of pop glory in a world gone mad.
    Songs discussed
    Netta - Toy
    Netta - Ricki Lake
    Senhit - FREAKY!
    Tornike Kipiani - Take Me as I am
    Go-A - Solovey
    Efendi - Cleopatra
    Gjon’s Tears - Repondez-moi
    The Roop - On Fire
    Dadi Freyr - Think About Things
    Roxen - Alcohol You
    Little Big - Uno
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    • 42 min
    How To Soundtrack A Villain: Killing Eve

    How To Soundtrack A Villain: Killing Eve

    When BBC America reached out to do a piece about the music of Killing Eve, we jumped at the opportunity. The series antagonist, Villanelle, is an unpredictable assassin. On a dime she shifts from cold and calculating to child-like and jocular. Her personality swings are accompanied by a captivating psychedelic pop soundtrack. Whether you are familiar with the series or not, this no spoilers episode breaks down music from the 1960s that has earned its place on primetime. 
    SPONSORED BY BBC AMERICA
    Songs Discussed

    Unloved - We Are Unloved 

    Psychotic Beats - Killer Shangri-:ah

    The Ronettes - Walking In The rain

    The Beatles - Strawberry Fields

    Brigitte Bardot - Contact

    Betty Hutton - It’s Oh So Quiet

    Björk - It’s Oh So Quiet

    Jo Stafford - Some Enchanted Evening

    Duke Ellington - Skin Deep

    Roxette - Listen To Your Heart

    Jacqueline Taieb - La Plus Belle Chanson

    The Beatles - Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!


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    • 39 min
    Did Fiona Apple Just Release a Perfect Album?

    Did Fiona Apple Just Release a Perfect Album?

    Since 1996, Fiona Apple has only ever had one hit, “Criminal.” Nonetheless, every album she’s released has been nominated for a Grammy. Her newest work, Fetch The Bolt Cutters, has received near universal acclaim. Apple’s songs are simultaneously idiosyncratic and relatable, tackling unusual themes for pop songs: middle school bullies, uncomfortable dinner conversation, toxic masculinity and female friendship. Apple accompanies her idiosyncratic lyrics with homemade percussion and only minimal piano. The final product is on the borderline between crafted composition and impromptu improvisation. It is this duality which makes the work relatable and timeless. Her two song suite “I Want You To Love Me” and “Shameika” have connections to Beethoven, Yeats, and Patti Smith, which we break down in the first half. And listeners call in during the second half to share what moved them about the album. 
    Songs Discussed

    Fiona Apple - Fast As You Can, Criminal, Under The Table, I Want You To Want Me, Shameika, Fetch The Bolt Cutters, Ladies, Heavy Balloon 

    Beethoven - Moonlight Sonata

    Patti Smith - Gloria: In Excelsis Deo

    Van Morrison - Gloria


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    • 35 min
    Doja Cat’s “Say So” is a Masterclass in Good Times

    Doja Cat’s “Say So” is a Masterclass in Good Times

    Doja Cat has gatecrashed the Top 40 with her effervescent hit “Say So.” How did this Internet personality best known for a song whose chorus is “B***h, I’m a cow!” join the ranks of Dua Lipa, Drake, and The Weeknd? The answer involves a voice that careens from gentle soul to fierce rapping, a catchy chorus that grabs you from the first measure, and most importantly, interpolating the guitar patterns of Nile Rodgers, the secret sauce behind four decades of smash hits. 

    Songs featured:
    Doja Cat - Say So, Juicy, Fancy, Moo
    Chic - Good Times
    Sugarhill Gang - Rappers Delight
    Diana Ross - I’m Coming Out
    David Bowie - Let’s Dance
    Daft Punk - Get Lucky
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    • 30 min

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5
8 Ratings

8 Ratings

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