185 episodes

Song Exploder is a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made. Each episode features an artist discussing a song of theirs, breaking down the sounds and ideas that went into the writing and recording. Hosted and produced by Hrishikesh Hirway.

Song Exploder Radiotopia

    • Music

Song Exploder is a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made. Each episode features an artist discussing a song of theirs, breaking down the sounds and ideas that went into the writing and recording. Hosted and produced by Hrishikesh Hirway.

    Semisonic - Closing Time

    Semisonic - Closing Time

    The song “Closing Time” by the American rock band Semisonic came out in March 1998. It hit #1 on the Alternative charts, and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Song. It gets played in stadiums, Weird Al covered it, and it’s the last song of the night in countless bars.

    Since then, Dan Wilson, the lead singer and songwriter of Semisonic, has become a powerhouse songwriter who has written or co-written for artists like John Legend and Taylor Swift. And he’s won Grammys for his songwriting with the Dixie Chicks and Adele. But over two decades ago, Dan and his bandmates John Munson and Jacob Slichter were in Minneapolis, getting ready to start work on their second album, Feeling Strangely Fine. In this episode of Song Exploder, Dan breaks down how that process led to "Closing Time."

    songexploder.net/semisonic

    • 25 min
    Vampire Weekend - Harmony Hall

    Vampire Weekend - Harmony Hall

    The band Vampire Weekend started in 2006, in New York. Their third album came out in 2013, and was named one of the best albums of the year all over the place, and it won a Grammy. But it took six years for their next album, Father of the Bride, to come out. This album’s also been nominated for a Grammy, for album of the year. And the lead single from it, “Harmony Hall,” was nominated for Best Rock Song.

    In this episode, Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend takes “Harmony Hall” apart. I spoke to him along with producer Ariel Rechtshaid, and the two of them detailed winding path the song went down, over several years, before it finally took shape.

    songexploder.net/vampire-weekend

    • 26 min
    Intro Theme and Thao's Farewell

    Intro Theme and Thao's Farewell

    Thao Nguyen has been guest hosting Song Exploder this year, with Christian Koons producing, to give Hrishikesh a little room to daydream. That’s all been possible because of the support of Radiotopia listeners. In this bonus episode, Thao says goodbye, and we break down the intro music that Hrishi made to go with Thao’s time as guest host. Thanks to everyone who has listened this year. If you’d like to support the future of the podcast, you can donate to Radiotopia. You can help make new things possible for the podcast. Make your mark. Go to radiotopia.fm to donate today.

    • 10 min
    Meek Mill - Trauma

    Meek Mill - Trauma

    Meek Mill is a rapper from Philadelphia. He’s put out five albums. His most recent, Championships, debuted at #1 on the charts, and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Album.

    Back in 2007, He was arrested on a gun charge at the age of 19, and over the last eleven years, he was sent to prison four times for parole violations. But in July 2019, based on evidence of alleged police corruption, the Pennsylvania Superior Court threw out his conviction, and the parole violation that had led to his most recent time in prison, a five-month sentence.

    It was soon after Meek Mill was released that this song, “Trauma,” was created. He took inspiration from his experiences in prison, and his early life in Philadelphia.

    In this episode, Meek Mill and Don Cannon, who produced the track, break down how the whole thing came together.

    songexploder.net/meek-mill

    Right now, Radiotopia is holding its annual fundraiser. You can help support Song Exploder and the network that makes it possible. Make your mark. Go to Radiotopia.fm to donate today.

    • 18 min
    Bat for Lashes - Kids in the Dark

    Bat for Lashes - Kids in the Dark

    Natasha Khan makes music under the name Bat for Lashes. She’s released five albums, including Lost Girls, which came out in September 2019.

    In this episode, she breaks down the making of the lead single from that album, called “Kids in the Dark.” But just before she started writing it, she wasn't sure if she would make another album at all.

    songexploder.net/bat-for-lashes

    Right now, Radiotopia is holding its annual fundraiser. You can help support Song Exploder and the network that makes it possible. Make your mark. Go to Radiotopia.fm to donate today.

    • 20 min
    Jay Som - Tenderness

    Jay Som - Tenderness

    Melina Duterte goes by the name Jay Som. She’s a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. She’s released three albums as Jay Som, and has produced, engineered, and mixed each one.

    Her third album, Anak Ko, came out in August 2019. And in this episode, Melina breaks down a song from it called “Tenderness.”

    songexploder.net/jay-som

    • 17 min

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A must listen for everyone who likes music

Short segments looking into the minds of musicians. How they create a song from scratch, often starting with a coincidence or an emotion. Spanning different styles and genres.

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